The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority signed a $142.9 million contract last week to begin a major overhaul of its aging train-control and rail-safety systems in a deal that is expected to require some bond financing.

MARTA inked the contract with Alstom Signaling Inc., a transit technology firm selected after a competitive bid process. The modernization program includes a number of projects that will be funded from the authority’s capital program, said spokeswoman Cara Hodgson.

“For any capital project, MARTA first utilizes any available local, state, and federal funding prior to issuing debt to reimburse the general fund,” she said. “MARTA has not determined at what point during the train control program it will issue debt financing, but we do anticipate utilizing debt financing to support these projects.”

The $117 million project will take an estimated five years to complete. The contract includes a provision for two five-year contract options for Alstom to maintain the improvements, which brings the total contract value to $142.9 million.

Once completed, the work will improve rail service, operational efficiency, and productivity, according to MARTA general manager Beverly Scott.

“This project is a demonstration of our commitment to move forward with the next generation of automated train control and safety systems,” Scott said. “It also positions MARTA to broaden its reach in terms of creating an integrated transit network for the future that will have the capacity to serve the entire Atlanta region.”

Phillippe Mellier, president of Alstom, said the project would bring cutting-edge technology to Atlanta.

MARTA’s existing train control systems are more than 30 years old.

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