MARTA Advances Clayton BRT Into Federal Grant Program

Monday, February 28th, 2022

The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) today announced that the Clayton Southlake Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project has advanced into the Project Development phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) Capital Investment Grant (CIG) Program as a Small Starts Project. After a long absence from the CIG program, Clayton Southlake BRT is the first of several projects MARTA will advance as part of its MARTA 2040 program with requested CIG funding.   

“This is an exciting milestone for both MARTA and Clayton County as we undertake the region’s first major transit expansion in decades,” said MARTA Interim General Manager and CEO Collie Greenwood. 

The estimated $338 million BRT project will provide high-capacity transit service connecting the College Park MARTA Station to several key destinations in Clayton County including Airport Gateway, Riverdale Town Center, Southern Regional Medical Center campus, Mount Zion commercial corridor, and Southlake Mall. Features of the BRT system will be similar to those found in rail investments including dedicated transit lanes, more frequent service, BRT-focused stations, and transit-oriented development opportunities. The project would also include 13 new BRT-branded stations with offboard fare collection, the purchase of ten BRT-branded electric buses and associated electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and the installation of transit signal priority equipment at key intersections. 

“Clayton County residents will benefit from the Southlake BRT because it will make a trip from College Park to Southlake Mall 19 minutes faster, making it easier to access jobs, healthcare, and entertainment throughout the region,” said Clayton County Chairman Jeff Turner. 

The recent federal Investment in Infrastructure and Jobs Act, which reauthorized surface transportation programs for five years, included a change championed by Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff to increase the eligibility for Small Starts to $400 million and increase the maximum amount of federal funding from $100 million to $150 million. These changes mean that the Southlake BRT project is eligible and can be awarded up to $150 million. 

“This is great news for Clayton County residents. More affordable transportation options are on the way through MARTA. Senator Warnock and I will keep working to deliver new, convenient, reliable, and accessible transportation infrastructure for our constituents,” said Sen. Ossoff. 

“I fought hard to make the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as beneficial to Georgia as possible, including securing necessary changes to ensure critical public transportation projects throughout Georgia are able to benefit from these federal investment opportunities. I am glad to see these changes already paying dividends for MARTA’s expansion plans and to see the Clayton Southlake BRT, which will improve mobility and create new economic opportunities for Georgians, granted entry into the Small Starts pipeline,” said Sen. Warnock.

MARTA received support from the Clayton County Board of Commissioners last November to advance the project, and the MARTA Board of Directors followed, allowing staff to send a request for entry into the program in late December. Next steps include CIG budget request to Congress in August, completion of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in December, and construction underway in summer 2024 with an operational date in 2026.