ATLANTA – The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and Georgia Department of Natural Resources partnered to deploy two decommissioned railcars into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Savannah where over time they will develop into reef habitats for marine wildlife.
Earlier this year, the dismantled older model railcars were stripped of hazardous materials and contaminants and inspected and approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for deployment as artificial reef material. On Thursday, Dec. 21, the railcars were transported by barge to Artificial Reef L, an established reef about two square miles in size, located approximately 23 nautical miles east of Ossabaw Island and deployed in about 55 to 65 feet of water.
“It was thrilling to be part of repurposing two of our original railcars in this environmentally responsible way,” said MARTA Board of Directors Chair Thomas Worthy. “We hope to provide more retired railcars for reef deployment, as well as find other inventive ways to reuse decommissioned railcars as we make room for the new CQ400 trains, the first of which arrives in Atlanta for testing next year.”
“This project has been a long time in the works, and we are so glad to have these MARTA railcars offshore now to provide essential fish habitat, diving opportunities, and another great offshore fishing location,” said Cameron Brinton, a marine biologist with DNR’s Coastal Resources Division, which oversees artificial reef creation on Georgia’s coast.
Over time, the railcars will provide essential marine habitat for sea creatures, including popular sport fish and endangered sea turtles. While the substrate for the reef is manmade, the organisms that will grow on it are entirely natural and beneficial for the environment. Fish and other marine life such as sea turtles are likely to investigate the new habitat almost immediately. Corals, sponges, and other encrusting organisms will begin to take hold on the railcars in about one year and will continue to grow and improve the longer they are in the ocean. SCUBA divers and anglers can begin using the reef immediately.
MARTA’s railcars join previously deployed materials, including U.S. Army M-60 battle tanks, barges, tugboats, New York City subway cars, and other manmade structures. Artificial Reef L was first created in 1976 as part of a network of 32 offshore reefs that the Coastal Resources Division has been building and improving for more than 40 years.