Grad student proposes Krog Street MARTA Station

MARTA train headed to the airport at Five Points Station on April 9, 2015.
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MARTA train headed to the airport at Five Points Station on April 9, 2015.

100613_public_transit_ba06One Georgia Tech graduate student’s thesis begat the Beltline. Could another university student’s thesis bring about a new MARTA infill station?

Carlton Ingram, a masters student in the School of City and Regional Planning at Georgia Tech, proposes in a May 2015 paper that an infill station could be built along MARTA’s eastern line at CSX Railroad’s Hulsey Yard. (An infill station is one that is constructed on existing track between two existing stations — in this case, between King Memorial and Inman Park/Reynoldstown).

The location is intriguing because it’s beside the Beltline, near the intersection of Krog Street and DeKalb Avenue. An infill station there could serve the trendy area developing around Krog Street Market, a nine-acre mixed use development that opened last summer. The paper states:

Across America a handful of cities have begun experimenting with an uncommon method for fostering new ridership and economic development adjacent to their heavy rail routes. Infill stations provide municipalities the chance to adapt their public transit infrastructure to a changing urban landscape in addition to increasing their tax base.

Ingram goes on to point out that MARTA commissioned an infill station study in 2007, but is yet to act on it. In the interim, the Beltline has fueled a resurgence of downtown development and with it, more potential rail customers.

His research indicates that Hulsey Yard “would be a sufficient location for an infill station, now more so than ever before, but also acknowledges the severe limitations MARTA faces in terms of transit-friendly resources.”

MARTA has no current plans to build any infill stations. So many conditions have changed since the 2007 study that it is probably of limited use now, said Don Williams, the interim Assistant General Manager of Planning for MARTA.

“In terms of feasibility and operability, we would have to get more engineering and design work done,” Williams. “The biggest thing we would be concerned about is impact to existing stations.”

Plunking down a new station between two old ones could siphon away customers from existing station, Williams said. MARTA would also have to be concerned with how adding a stop would slow down trip times.

Whether the potential ridership would justify the investment is another significant question. A study on transit-oriented development conducted for the City of Atlanta a few years ago found that 13 MARTA stations were underutilized with fewer than 3,500 boardings per weekday, and that included King Memorial and Inman Park/Reynoldstown.

MARTA is already studying three other expansions for which it doesn’t have any funding — a heavy rail extension along Ga. 400 north to Windward Parkway, a heavy rail extension eastward along I-20 to Stonecrest Mall and a trolley system to connect the Lindbergh and Avondale stations.

MARTA intends to seek approval from state legislators next year to hold a referendum in its existing service area that would let voters decide whether to contribute an extra half-percent tax for future expansions.

To view the previous infill station study conducted by MARTA, click here: 2007 MARTA Infill Stations Report.


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