Money for MARTA expansions in question by Atlanta City Council members

MARTA and Atlanta government leaders promised citizens new projects including state-of-the-art light rail, but can they keep that promise after what may be a shortfall of a billion dollars? 

City council members picked up the debate this week, calling for transportation executives to explain.

There is no way even with your sales tax dollars that the complete wish list of the projects could be funded, MARTA executives have said.

At a recent Atlanta City Council meeting, council members asked if citizens would get shortchanged on future transportation projects they've invested in while paying extra on sales tax.


Speaking at the meeting, Josh Rowan called the shortfall in Clayton County and Atlanta projects "monumental"

It's a great concern to me and I presume it is a great concern to everyone on this body," Rowan said.

Until recently, Rowan was a top official with MARTA and headed Atlanta's Department of Transportation.

MARTA responded in a statement saying that "the model was not complete, and the numbers referenced by Mr. Rowan are one outcome that could be created using a certain set of assumptions."

MARTA, or the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, train seen at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. (Photo by Alex Tai/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

One specific area pointed to by City Council members Michael Julian Bond and Antonio Lewis was consultant fees.

"Two hundred million on consultants" Antonio Lewis said. "I'm not just worried about my projects. I'm worried about everyone's project."

MARTA insists the money spent on consultants is not fluff.

"They aren't simply idea people who dip in and out of projects. They are responsible for planning and designing world-class expansion projects and moving them to the construction phase," MARTA said in a statement.

MARTA categorically said that there is no shortfall when it comes to the Clayton County projects and said that Rowan was fired by the CEO.