Emory transit proposal hits an obstacle: Vincent Fort

[private]Emory University officials who are hoping to get a MARTA rail line as part of their upcoming annexation into the City of Atlanta have a potential hurdle that they may have to overcome: state Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta).

Fort, who’s a member of the legislature’s MARTA Overview Committee (MARTOC), lashed out at the Emory plan as MARTA officials were updating committee members Monday on future projects in DeKalb County.

“I’m very concerned that this Emory line appears to be jumping in line for money that the city of Atlanta folks voted for last year,” Fort said.

He was referring to a referendum last November in which Atlanta voters approved a half-penny sales tax increase to raise a cumulative $2.5 billion in funds for future MARTA projects in the city.

At the time of that vote, Emory had not announced its plans to apply for annexation of the campus property into Atlanta – a move that includes the expectation of getting a MARTA rail line extension to Emory via the Clifton Road corridor.

In the months since Atlanta voters okayed the tax hike, Emory has applied for annexation and the Atlanta City Council is expected to vote on the annexation in early September.

“It’s the least transparent instance I’ve ever seen in MARTA,” Fort complained. “City Hall is not being transparent and there’s a serious question of equity.”

“No one from the city of Atlanta has come to us and said the Emory project, or any other project, has priority,” MARTA General Manager Keith Parker told the committee.

Parker said the transit agency had been asked specifically to brief MARTOC members on potential rail projects affecting DeKalb – that would include an 8.5-mile rail extension along the Clifton Road corridor from the Lindbergh station to the Avondale station, but also a rail line eastward along Interstate 20.

For the moment, Fort poses a problem for MARTA because of his membership on the MARTOC committee.

He is also one of about a dozen candidates running to succeed Kasim Reed as mayor of Atlanta, a job in which Fort could really cause trouble for Emory with his opposition to the Clifton Road corridor.

Fort made it clear he does not like the proposal: “It’s appalling what we’re seeing here over the summer of 2017.”

© 2017 by The Georgia Report


Tags: Emory University annexation , MARTA , Vincent Fort