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Raymond Christman – Comments to the Atlanta Regional Roundtable, Oct. 6, 2011
Good morning and thank you for this opportunity to make comments on behalf of the Fair Share for Transit Coalition.
As I stated at last week’s meeting, we believe that the Roundtable has done a tremendous job in developing a strong, diverse and well-balance draft project list. Now we are in the final stages of considering amendments to that list and, understandably, emotions run high as the final opportunity comes about to secure funding for a particular project.
Given the introduction of some nine amendments, we believe, as I’m sure others do, that we have the responsibility to our supporters to make comments and provide input. Our specific comments are provided in the letter that I sent to you on Tuesday, a copy of which is being distributed today.
There is no need for me to reiterate any of this in my public comments today, but I would like to draw your attention to several core issues which we believe are important for you to consider as you act today:
- First, we believe that a number of these amendments, as written, serve to divide rather than unite all of us in support of better transportation for the region. Take Amendment 10, for example. Do we support more funding to expand GRTA Xpress bus service in the region? Of course. But do we support achieving that by reducing funding for the Atlanta Beltline, the Clifton Corridor, and the Northwest Corridor. No, we do not believe that is the way to accomplish that goal. The same comment could be made of many of the other amendments;
- Second, we urge you to keep in mind the total financial requirements — both operating and capital — for these large-scale transit projects. We urge you not to unduly shave dollars from these projects at the 11th hour to fund other needs, thereby weakening the region’s ability to deliver these projects as proposed;
- And, third, please also continue to keep in mind that TIA represents just a portion – a significant portion, but still just a portion — of the total transportation spend for the region over the next ten years. As Jane Hayse reported to you last week, the region is projected to have $18 billion to spend on transportation over ten years, including the $6.14 the Roundtable is acting on today. In this context, if faced with a difficult choice between two worthy projects, we again urge you to particularly support the ones that can be funded no other way than through TIA, and allow other local, state, federal funding sources cover some or all of the costs of others.
Thank you for this opportunity to make these comments, and thank you again for your service to the region.
METRO ATLANTA - William B. Hartsfield established his legacy – and Atlanta’s – throughthis fierce determination to make Atlanta an aviation center. He secured that significant transportation investment, helping fuel metro Atlanta’s growth after WWII. Figuratively-speaking he added jet-fuel to Atlanta’s ambitions and its thirst for growth.
Since that watershed period in Atlanta’s development, Atlanta has become the cultural and business capital of the Southeast.
However, that growth has come at a price: Our roads are congested beyond our ability to absorb the additional 3 million people who will call Atlanta home by 2040.
“Our transportation investments have not kept pace. Atlanta is no longer at the forefront when it comes to transportation. Nothing short of significant new investment in fresh transportation facilities will convince others that our region is serious about preparing for the population growth that the region is expected to see,” according to Livable Communities Coalition executive director Ray Christman.
In other words, metro Atlanta has reached another important crossroads.
Metro Atlanta residents will have an opportunity to steer our shared future. The region will either pass or reject a referendum intended to raise monies to fund transportation solutions.
The Livable Communities Coalition believes the area’s transportation solutions must include “A Fair Share for Transit” in order to ensure the region‘s future vitality. A “Fair Share” should set aside up to 60 percent of proposed special tax revenues for enhancing and expanding transit in the region. A “Fair Share” should also include measures to develop safe routes to transit in order to make it easier to walk or bike to transit stops.
At stake is Atlanta’s reputation as a leader in the Southeast.
“Our peer cities have all made substantial, recent investments in public transportation, including Charlotte, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Houston, Denver and Phoenix,” Christman notes. “Atlanta was at the forefront when it bet on air transportation by building what is now the country’s busiest airport. Now, we have fallen behind our peers because they have recognized transit is essential to their futures.”
With 3 million new residents on the way, metro Atlanta can ill afford to create transportation investments that do not include transit. Traffic is already bad. This is metro Atlanta’s opportunity to do something about it.