The MARTA Tunnels

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Cut from the bedrock beneath the city, the MARTA tunnels, as they are still known thanks to the many signs and markings left on the walls, are a vast network of interconnecting tunnels that span the entire circumference of the city. The walls are made of rough-hewn granite, never polished or covered over by the original engineers as to remind passengers of where they were. The floor is a mosaic of slate and granite tiles that have withstood the centuries with resilient beauty. Despite the ravages of earthquakes, flooding, and wildlife, there are still large portions of the tunnels that are habitable, though what level of habitability depends on one’ s standards .

The way the tunnels are constructed, they are natural water canals channeling even small amounts of rain water with terrifying speed, and causing flash floods throughout the tunnel system. Depending on the amount of rainfall, the tunnels can be filled with fast moving rivulets, knee high streams, or in the case of severe thunderstorms and hurricanes, they become veritable pressurized pipes! Because some of the tunnels have been collapsed, displaced or otherwise disturbed from their original placement, this leads to many of these cavities acting as underground water reservoirs. These reservoirs collect runoff until the sheer amount of water breaks free from whatever is holding it back—whether a debris pile, collected dirt and sediment, or a manmade barrier—and jets through the tunnels and underground cavities pushing the debris ahead of it like a runaway locomotive until the energy is expended. The water quickly drains away after a rain, which only invites the uninitiated to gather or make camp in what seems to be a safe haven, unaware that the next rain may spell their doom. Despite the dangers posed by rain, the tunnels are home to thousands, as they do provide protection and solitude from the horrors visited on the world above. As long as the inhabitants take to high ground when it rains, disaster can be averted.

The MARTA Tunnels

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