DUNWOODY, Ga. — The Dunwoody City Council submitted a resolution June 18 asking for some say in the recent DeKalb County transit plans for expanded public transit.
The $25 billion, 30-year transit plan would attempt to expand paratransit services, improve bus services with bus rapid transit stations and improve first and last mile infrastructure.
The plan is structured to accommodate two funding scenarios — one with a countywide half-penny sales tax increase, the other with a full penny increase.
At the special called meeting, Mayor Denis Shortal said the council needed to send DeKalb County a resolution asking to participate in the plan. One of his main concerns, he said, is the plan’s lack of a clear priority list.
“Right now the question is, ‘will we have the ridership?’” Shortal said.
Laura Everitt, DeKalb’s transit and rail planning manager, presented the plans to the Dunwoody City Council at its June 10 meeting as part of the county’s effort to touch base will all local municipalities. She explained the differences between the half-penny and full-penny plans.
The half-penny plan would feature one light rail transit line, five bus rapid transit and nine arterial rapid transit projects, altogether 139 project miles. It would add 14 bus rapid transit stations, five arterial bus rapid transit stations and five light rail stations in DeKalb.
The full penny plan would add four light rail transit lines, four bus rapid transit and eight arterial transit projects for a total of 180 project miles. It would add 17 light rail stations, 10 bus rapid transit stations and five arterial bus rapid transit stations.
Bus rapid transit station locations looks largely the same on both funding solution maps, but the biggest differences in the full-penny plan are extended light rail projects south and more arterial rapid transit in south and eastern parts of the county.
If DeKalb voters reject an additional sales tax, MARTA would concentrate on rehabilitating existing stations.
Some of what DeKalb proposes to use the half penny or full penny on is regional, rather than more widespread projects, Councilwoman Lynn Deutsch said.
Councilwoman Pam Tallmadge agreed, saying she wanted to see more “octopus arms” out to different parts of the county.
“I’m not sure why DeKalb is being asked to absorb the brunt of these projects,” Deutsch said.
Dunwoody as a city was not involved in the plans, Councilman Terry Nall said, though the public at large was involved in providing input about what the various transportation projects would be. Dunwoody needs a say, Nall said.
Deutsch also had concerns that the plans only benefit parts of the county. There is a huge need in South DeKalb for transit and economic improvement. Everyone benefits when the county as a whole becomes healthier, she said.
“I think this is premature, maybe in its whole,” Deutsch said.
Shortal read his drafted resolution in the meeting with corrections from other council members as follows:
“The City of Dunwoody desires to have input into the DeKalb County transit plan and following on items of interest; the DeKalb County transit plans be finalized with input from the cities involved; Dunwoody must be part of the follow up of those projects, how to pay for the projects, have the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority coordinate the transit plans of DeKalb, Cobb, Fulton and Gwinnett to create a project list for the North Atlanta region.”
The resolution passed 5-0.
More details for the DeKalb Master Transit plan can be found at dekalbtransitmasterplan.com.