• Atlanta MARTA Tilford Northwest Line Extension

  • General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.
General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

Moderators: mtuandrew, gprimr1

  by GojiMet86
 
https://urbanize.city/atlanta/post/mart ... b-marietta
Could a MARTA rail expansion to (almost) Cobb County be brewing?
Northwest transit route identified at recent ATL Authority meeting
FEBRUARY 19, 2021, 10:34AMJOSH GREEN

For Atlantans who’ve dreamed of catching a MARTA train to Braves games again, or riding from the city’s northwest side to points across the rail network, a recent presentation offers a few tentative glimmers of hope.

MARTA outlined its aspirations for “future northwest transit opportunities” at an Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (ATL) board meeting this month, and the visuals are intriguing.

The presentation, while hardly meticulously detailed, shows how a MARTA rail expansion could branch off today’s last-stop Bankhead station, snake around the Bellwood Quarry park site and the massive, dormant Tilford Yard, and then stretch toward city limits near the Chattahoochee River, with Cobb County’s The Battery and Truist Park just beyond that......
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  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Let's call this proposal "A start".

While hardly a native, I've "been there done that" enough in this life to know my way around the Atlanta area; and God willing post-COVID, I'll be able to do so again.

Problem is; it hardly goes far enough to reach Sun Trust Park - and even if it did and presuming they would wish to follow the NC&StL (route of "The Georgian", "Dixie Flyer", et al) past the apparently abandoned Tilford Yard, it would still be a bus ride away from the "home of the Braves" (bets anyone, on how long they will be named such?).

I must wonder to what extent the Tilford Yard property would be successful as a "mixed use" development. Lest we forget, there remains a mighty active rail line by there, and those the development would be "pitched" are not exactly railfans! I would think the intent would be to reach Kennesaw State University, a four-year (I know a graduate from there; she's "done OK" in this life), residence but still many a commuter, and by then, you'd have a meaningful transportation resource.

As Georgia becomes more Democratic, the resistance within Cobb County to mass transit (they have their own bus line away from MARTA) projects will fade.

Stay tuned.
  by MattW
 
The only problem with this is it's likely that CSX is going to be reinstalling 15-20 tracks in Tilford to move operations away from the very congested Howells yard. It seems the community is getting way ahead of itself like the community around Hulsey did. Plus, the rail line itself is far from inactive.
Gilbert B Norman wrote: Tue Feb 23, 2021 7:36 am Let's call this proposal "A start".

While hardly a native, I've "been there done that" enough in this life to know my way around the Atlanta area; and God willing post-COVID, I'll be able to do so again.
I am a native and very aware of all the development and planning that goes on around Atlanta.
Problem is; it hardly goes far enough to reach Sun Trust Park - and even if it did and presuming they would wish to follow the NC&StL (route of "The Georgian", "Dixie Flyer", et al) past the apparently abandoned Tilford Yard, it would still be a bus ride away from the "home of the Braves" (bets anyone, on how long they will be named such?).
Though this does point the right direction, I don't think this is really the point of the line. Ideally it would reach over the county line into Cobb County, but there is plenty of new development between Atlanta and Cumberland that would be well served by a rail line. Unfortunately, most of that development is on the north side of the yard along Marietta Blvd instead of along the south side where they show this rail line running.
I must wonder to what extent the Tilford Yard property would be successful as a "mixed use" development. Lest we forget, there remains a mighty active rail line by there, and those the development would be "pitched" are not exactly railfans!
If a yard ultimately doesn't go back in there, then I think any such development would do fine. There are quite a few developments backing up to the CSX/NS through west midtown and a number out along Hulsey before Hulsey was inactivated.
I would think the intent would be to reach Kennesaw State University, a four-year (I know a graduate from there; she's "done OK" in this life), residence but still many a commuter, and by then, you'd have a meaningful transportation resource.
That's a very long distance for Heavy Rail. I'm not sure HRT is appropriate outside I-285, at least not where there's existing rail to use for commuter rail. Incidentally I also graduated from what is now KSU. I got out with a diploma that still says Southern Polytechnic State University.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. MattW, aren't I the usual Pyrrho around these parts?

It appears that as both a native and a graduate of Kennesaw State, you hold more skepticism regarding this proposal than I.

Funny how when driving into town on the 75 and observed the new paralleling construction, I kept hoping and thinking "MARTA's on the way". Sorry Charlie, more Lexus Lanes.

Well I know one Lexus in this world that will never set a wheel on them or any others out and about - mine!

But I would think that as a minimum, a Cobb County MARTA (you pick the color) line, it should be closer to the 75 and offer Sun Trust right to the gate - just as it did to the former venue and as it does and of interest to me - Woodruff.

But finally, paralleling the NC&STL as appears to be the plan, would save some loot and simply follow how the existing lines parallel the SRY through town and to the Airport.

Finally, I think The Late Bill Haithcoat, who I knew face-to-face, would be very happy to learn of this development.
  by west point
 
Thoughts. NC&SL line is not the straightest in the world. The old interurban to Marietta was much shorter. Marta does go outside I-285 mainly following Ga 400.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
"Breaking the 285 barrier" is not the issue, as MARTA (rail) clearly breaks it going to North Point. When I'm down, this is the line I ride both from the Airport to a hotel (Crowne or Hyatt) on the 285 ("Perimeter" in localese) or to Woodruff for the Symphony from either hotel. Further the line to Doralville along the 85 touches, but does not X the 285. To the East, MARTA X's the 285 with a line as well (defer to others such as Mr. Shivik on that as I "don't exactly" get over yonder on my visits).

Now I shouldn't "get political" around here, but to this outsider, It's what its all about with MARTA and Cobb County. "First stop", actually extending South of the 285, is the 11th CD with a seat formerly held by Newt Gingrich. Wanna go further North along the 75, say, to Rome, well you're now in the 14th CD with its well known occupant - Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. What kind of chance would a transit agency, run by "those Fulton County Democrats" have of receiving voter support up that way?

"Lexus Lanes" are far more a priority to those folk, despite an overwhelming need for "heavy rail" mass transit up there. I don't give this proposal much of a chance.

Not that I'm about to, mention MARTA around the KSU graduate gal I know? Well Scarlett cussing out Rhett would be tame in comparison.
  by GojiMet86
 
I posted this on reddit, and I received a reply:
So, some background for y'all:

Back in 2017, CSX announced the closure of its Tilford Yard in Northwest Atlanta, which was a hump and classification yard. This came at a time when CSX was busy liquidating a lot of its assets, and shifting operations to cheaper locations. By 2018, CSX had torn out all the track structure except for the mainlines that passed through the area. People were already speculating about what to do with the property, but that really picked up with the tracks ripped out, since it was a clear indication of CSX getting ready to offload the land.

In a similar sense, CSX ended operations of intermodal work at its Hulsey yard in East Atlanta in 2019, but reactivated it as a bulk-transfer facility in 2020, after pulling all the intermodal support equipment out. There had been a lot of hope of redeveloping that space as well, but it's less certain now.

Anyway, so far Tilford has not been sold. Yet. I know for a fact that a lot of parties were negotiating with CSX for the land almost immediately, but those have not been closed yet. In part, this is due to the leadership changes that CSX went through after Tilford was closed (see how Hulsey was closed then reactivated), and that likely put a pause while the company reevaluated the decision. Unlike Hulsey, though, the actual yard tracks were ripped out of Tilford, so it seems as if there's little chance for CSX to really reactivate the space without spending a lot of money in the process, and I've heard rumors that deals are progressing once more.

So! What's so special about this space? Well, it's huge, for starters. 300 acres within the I-285 perimeter, cleared and leveled already. It's an odd shape, sure, but it's basically primed to build on. Anything that comes in will have a blank-slate to do just about whatever they want with the space, which isn't something you get very often in a core city.

Second, it would be an extension of the already growing northwest part of Atlanta, which has seen the Marietta St. Corridor and Howell area swelling in recent years with infill and new development. There's a huge redevelopment of the area near MARTA's Bankhead heavy rail station, a bit south of the southern end of the development, where Microsoft will be making huge investments, and MARTA is looking at putting towers of mixed-income housing on top of its station. None of this is to forget the simply massive Westside Reservoir Park that the city is in the process of building.

Third, it's at something of a transportation confluence. The terminus of one of MARTA's heavy rail lines is quite close, with Bankhead being ~2 miles south of Tilford's southern tip. The BeltLine will also be quite close by to the southern tip of Tilford. Then there are the freight rail lines, which could, sooner than many think, carry regional, commuter, and intercity trains to the North and West from Atlanta. All together, these offer the potential to locate a major transfer station at the southern tip of Tilford, allowing regional and commuter trains a place to circulate passengers into the local transit network.

Fourth, there's real opportunity for heavy rail expansion. Since Tilford is more or less clear-cut land, the potential to extend heavy rail is incredible, with huge cost-savings possible due to reduced land acquisition costs. The city even owns a lot of land on the way to Tilford, which could help those costs as well. MARTA has, so I've heard, been active in the negotiations with prospective land buyers, who want MARTA to extend heavy rail through their potential new developments as a value-adding, and quality-of life improving asset. Doing that would further help with regional connectivity by placing heavy rail very close to the border between Cobb County and Atlanta. Many complaints about building rail in Cobb have been centered on an unwillingness for Cobb to spend money in the City of Atlanta to get heavy rail to their border, let alone within the county. With Cobb gearing up for a transit-expansion vote in 2022, the potential for heavy rail to come to Cobb without their spending money on it opens up new opportunities for extending into the county. What that extension into the county would look like, though, is not entirely clear, nor is it clear how much would be heavy rail vs. regional rail implemented on the national network.

All in all, Tilford Yard is an important plot of land with a TON of opportunity surrounding it. MARTA has been thinking about the land pretty much since CSX first announced the closure of the yard, but MARTA has only now started publicizing its thoughts and proposals, which I take as a good sign that things are moving forward.
  by electricron
 
i have no doubts the train will be extended further out. But when is the question that needs to be answered? That is a chicken or the egg question. The board members will look like fools building into an empty area - nowhere-ville. But then the area would build up faster and denser if the train was there. When is a tough?

Another concept completely devoid in this discussion is hazardous wastes in the ground where the rail yard was. Railroad cars carry a lot of hazardous materials, and nothing is absolutely leak free or spill free. Before building neighborhoods of residential high rises, I highly suggest checking the land to make sure it is safe.