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)

GA - Retired MARTA railcars heading to Atlantic Ocean to turn into marine reefs

ATLANTA - After years of carrying passengers around metro Atlanta, a pair of MARTA railcars are getting a new life under the sea.

Thursday morning, MARTA will send the old railcars to the Georgia coast to be sunk to the bottom of the ocean.

The purpose is to create a new habitat for marine life off the coast by producing more coral habitats.

Earlier this year, the railcars were dismantled and cleaned, but officials say they'll still maintain their MARTA identity.

It's part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Coastal Resources Division's more than 40-year history of building artificial reefs off the coast of Georgia.

"It takes some time, you have some barnacles and encrusting organisms that start to grow. The fish usually come right away, and they use it as habitat to get away from things, and the entire reef community forms. In 10 or 15 years, you’ll have corals and things growing," DNR official Paul Medders said.

Over the years, a variety of structures have been placed on the bottom of the ocean, from old bridges, retired navy ships - even a tank. The MARTA rail cars will be the latest addition to the undersea architecture.

"They’re stable, they sit on the bottom, and they make good artificial reef habitat," said Medders.

"Railcars have been proven to be fully functional as artificial habitats offering support to smaller marine life," said Richard Thomas, MARTA’s Director of Sustainability.

MARTA plans to send six more cars next year.

If all goes well, the DNR says they'd like to expand the project.

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