Five Points station closure will hurt those who rely on it the most, riders warn

MARTA leaders re-affirmed their plans to shut down pedestrian and bus access to the system's largest hub at a board meeting Thursday afternoon. 

"[It's been] 11 months since the city chose the design and approved this project," said MARTA chief of staff Melissa Mullinax at the meeting. "We've been eager to get into construction."  

Several residents said the four-year closure would make using the system difficult. 

"It’s not feasible first of all," said Yvonne Chatman, an Atlanta resident. "You’re going to hurt the state, you’re going to hurt the city." 

Rebecca Serna, the executive director of the pedestrian advocacy group Propel ATL, has started a petition to get MARTA to reconsider. 

"The 17,000 people who currently access the Five Points station by bus and on foot, 17,000 people every day, this is going to be a tremendous disadvantage," she said.  

Serna said people who use wheelchairs and scooters would be disproportionately impacted. 

The transit agency declined Atlanta Mayor Andre Dicken's request that it delay construction plans last week. 

Phase 1 of the project will begin in July and is expected to take 18 months. It will significantly affect downtown Atlanta bus routes and street-level access to the station while leaving the platform levels of the rail station unaffected.  

All rail services are expected to continue as scheduled throughout the project. 

Dickens asked for a delay to the project - citing the upcoming World Cup coming to the city and an ongoing audit of the More MARTA sales tax that is partially funding the $230 million renovation. 

In a letter to the city on Monday, MARTA officials said that they have no intention of stopping the plans. 

"MARTA staff have worked hand in hand with your Administration to bring this project to life. After nine rounds of station design and discussion with you and your senior leadership team, including discussion about the need to restrict pedestrian access to Five Points at the plaza level during the deconstruction and demolition phases of the project, the project was approved by both the City of Atlanta and the MARTA Board of Directors," MARTA CEO Collie Greenwood wrote. "In the eleven months since the City of Atlanta approved the current design, MARTA has proceeded with all due haste to begin construction." 

While acknowledging the impact on riders, Greenwood said that construction requires that they have a "safety-first approach." 

"Our approach must mitigate the known risks of this type of heavy construction," he wrote. "We believe our current mitigation plan is an appropriate solution, but we will continue to review for possible improvements." 

He said that MARTA would re-open limited pedestrian access "as soon as safely possible." 

Bus routes affected by Five Points closure 

The first phase of the project, scheduled to kick off on July 6, will initiate service impacts, primarily concerning the relocation of eight bus routes.  

The following routes will go to Georgia State Station: 

  • Route 21 – Memorial Drive
  • Route 42 – Pryor Road
  • Route 49 – McDonough Boulevard
  • Route 55 – Jonesboro Road
  • Route 186 – Rainbow Road Drive/South DeKalb
  • The following routes will go to King Memorial Station:
  • Route 26 – Marietta Street/Perry Boulevard
  • Route 899 – Old Fourth Ward to King Memorial Station

The following route will go to Civic Center Station: 

  • Route 816 – North Highland Avenue

In addition to the service impacts, several service notes have been issued: 

  • Bus routes 3, 40, and 813 will continue to stop near Five Points.
  • Routes operated by regional transit partners CobbLinc, Ride Gwinnett, and Xpress will run as scheduled.
  • MARTA Police Precinct, RideStore, Lost and Found, Reduced Fare office, and MARTA HOPE office will relocate to the parking lot at Ashby Station starting July 29.
  • StationSoccer, MARTA Market, and the community garden will temporarily close.
  • Access to tunnels to the federal building and Underground Atlanta, and restroom facilities at Five Points, will be unavailable starting July 29.