A group of leaders from cities along I-285, “from Smyrna to Tucker,” gathered privately and informally on Nov. 8 to discuss possible transit on the top-end Perimeter and its region, according to Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst, who called the meeting.

“It was about seeing if we had a common goal to look at transit and mobility around the region,” said Ernst. “Nothing was proposed. Nothing was foreclosed.”

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst.

The multi-city gathering had no name, but the group “may be formalized” and meet again, Ernst said.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, a strong proponent of mass transit connections in the Perimeter area, was among the attendees.

“I thought it was very productive and sets in motion what could be a multicounty leadership group to focus on east/west mobility and multimodal connectivity across the Perimeter’s northern arc from Cumberland to Doraville,” Paul said in an email afterward.

Paul had mentioned the gathering at the previous night’s Sandy Springs City Council meeting, where he said, “The journey of a thousand miles has to start with a step,” and praised Brookhaven for starting a conversation.

Chamblee’s Eric Clarkson was another mayor in attendance, while the other cities sent other representatives, Ernst said. The gathering was held at the Villa Christina event space in Brookhaven’s Perimeter Summit area.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul.

Ernst said there was no presentation, “just chatting.” While transit has long been a big topic around the Perimeter, and traffic and transportation is everyone’s top issue, these multi-city leaders had never been in the same room before, Ernst said.

Asked whether representatives from cities in Cobb County, which has declined MARTA service in the past, offered any different perspectives on transit, Ernst said, “Everyone’s looking for different solutions.”

Various forms of mass transit and alternative transportation along and around I-285 have proposed over the years, including multi-use trails, trains and even monorails — which Paul himself recently discussed again. This year’s opening of SunTrust Park in Cobb County raised the issue again, and there is a growing sense of urgency as state plans to widening and add ramps to the I-285/Ga. 400 interchange take more right of way.

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