Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative

The Clifton Corridor is home to more than 30,000 employees and 15,500 students. It is the largest activity center in the metro Atlanta region with no direct access to a MARTA station or the interstate system. More than 2 million health care patients visit the Clifton Corridor annually. Emory is the largest employer in Atlanta with an annual economic impact of $11.4 billion and, along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is currently investing nearly $1 billion in new facilities along the proposed Clifton Corridor transit rail line. The Atlanta Regional Commission forecasts the largest job growth in the future will be in the health care sector, followed by scientific research and technology. With an estimated ridership of about 21,000 people per day, the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative (CCTI) will increase access to health care, education, and job opportunities throughout the Atlanta region and in-town communities, which otherwise would be very challenging to reach. It will also reduce the significant congestion on the limited arterial roads leading into the corridor.

In 1998, the Clifton Corridor Transportation Management Association (CCTMA) was formed to help mitigate congestion in the corridor through various transportation demand management (TDM) options including car and vanpooling, public transportation, biking, and walking. The CCTMA, one of seven transportation management associations in the Atlanta area, strongly encourages alternative work arrangements. Its members include Emory University and its hospital and clinics, CDC, Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Wesley Woods Center, the Ben Franklin Academy, Emory Conference Center Hotel, the University Inn, The Point, and the City of Decatur. Though the TDM options help to reduce single-occupancy vehicles in the corridor, a transit alternative is greatly needed and critical to the future of this thriving economic center of activity.

Corridor History and Studies to Date

While the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) first proposed a rapid transit line to the Clifton Corridor in its 1961 Atlanta Region Comprehensive Plan for Rapid Transit, a MARTA extension to the corridor was not included in the expansion of their current system. In 2000, MARTA conducted a major investment study of a rail line that would connect the Clifton Corridor to the Lindbergh Station via a line through South DeKalb. Neighborhood opposition necessitated a revised plan to connect to Lindbergh via a different route to avoid impacting those areas. Subsequently, the “Inner Core” Transit Feasibility Study emerged and, through federal appropriations secured through the support of members of the Georgia Congressional delegation, funding for this study was allocated in FY 2004 and FY 2005. Through the ongoing efforts of the CCTMA, the Clifton Corridor Transit Feasibility and Connectivity Study was conducted, which further supported the need for transit to serve the rapidly growing corridor.

In 2008, the ARC's Transportation Planning Board approved a transit plan for the metro Atlanta region named “Concept 3,” which included the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative (CCTI). MARTA and the CCTMA conducted the CCTI Alternatives Analysis in 2009, followed by the locally preferred alternative (LPA), both of which included more than two years of extensive community outreach and input. The MARTA board officially adopted the LPA in 2012, which encompasses an approximately 8-mile light rail line from the Lindbergh station linking to the Clifton Corridor and ultimately extending to its Avondale Station. Phase 1 of the rail line is a 4-mile segment to the Emory campus.

In 2018, MARTA and the City of Atlanta committed $350 million to the More MARTA program for the CCTI, and in 2019 the Atlanta-Region Transit Link Authority (the ATL) included the CCTI in its first regional transit plan.

In conjunction with other regional partners including the CCTMA, MARTA is currently conducting an environmental review and impact statement on the CCTI. This study will assess various conditions in the corridor, including environmental analysis and mitigation, alignment and cost refinement, station locations/design, and other potential impacts and will involve ongoing community outreach and public hearings. Throughout this study, simultaneous efforts to secure federal funding for the subsequent preliminary engineering and final design phases, as well as construction and operating funds for completion of the rail line, will be vigorously pursued.

For more information on the CCTI, please visit Emory's Master Planning website.