In the wake of Gwinnett County voters rejecting MARTA expansion, BeltLine transit supporters are pushing for officials to “speed up” the work to bring a rail line there, including through Buckhead.

In a March 19 vote, Gwinnett voters rejected a contract that would have funded MARTA service expansion there through a 1 percent sales tax. BeltLine Rail Now, an advocacy group that last year campaigned for transit to remain in the circular park’s plan amid cutback fears, says MARTA should focus on Atlanta instead and is planning a March 31 meeting.

A map, created last year by BeltLine planner and BeltLine Rail Now advocate Ryan Gravel, showing how a rail line along the corridor could come to Buckhead and connect to Cobb County and Emory University.

“Yesterday, our neighbors in Gwinnett County again turned their backs on MARTA,” a statement on the BeltLine Rail Now website said immediately after the vote. “That’s disappointing to those of us who believe transit is vital to keeping metro Atlanta moving — but it’s also a chance to turn our attention back to communities that are already on board.”

BeltLine Rail Now is led by former City Councilmember Cathy Woolard and urban planner Ryan Gravel, who invented the idea of the BeltLine and helped the city of Atlanta write its latest land-use plan.

Amid controversy last year and pressure from BeltLine Rail Now, MARTA reworked a long-term spending plan to devote more money to building rail along the BeltLine, including in part of Buckhead, though funding is still lacking for the entire project and other segments. The Shepherd Center rehabilitation hospital was among those backing BeltLine Rail Now’s position.

The location of the BeltLine Rail Now is to be announced. For more information, see

John Ruch is an Atlanta-based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.