Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth
Monthly Archives: April 2011
Independence. Choice. Control.
For many of us metro Atlanta’s traffic woes have limited independence, choice and control in our everyday lives.
In a recent article by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Ariel Hart, a poll shows residents of metro Atlanta are eager for more transportation choices.
The article cites changing attitudes towards transit in Atlanta’s suburban communities.
A big question in this time of economic uncertainty is whether the area is willing to pay for a more sophisticated transportation network that includes a greater share for transit.
The Livable Communities Coalition takes the position that the area is ready to make an investment in its future. Polls conducted by the Livable Communities Coalition in 2010 and by the former metro Atlanta Transportation Planning Board in 2008 help show this is a distinct trend.
The good news is that metro Atlanta has an opportunity to assert independence, choice and control through the Transportation Investment Act, which will allow voters in the ten-county area to either approve or reject a proposed one-cent sales tax that would help critical transportation improvements throughout the region.
Of course, voters will want to know whether transportation improvement projects can deliver on the promise of enhanced mobility.
As we speak, transportation leaders elected by us are evaluating the projects submitted by communities throughout the region to determine which projects should be included in a final transportation list. This will be the list available to voters prior to the summer 2012 sales tax referendum.
The Livable Communities Coalition seeks the time permitted by this evaluation process to facilitate a region-wide conversation about our transportation future. Accordingly, we have launched a public education initiative we call a Fair Share for Transit.
We feel that a significant commitment to transit is what this region needs to build a foundation for a strong future and to help everyone in the region have more independence, choice and control than we currently have.
As State Rep. Mike Jacobs noted at our launch, the success of the transportation referendum depends on our ability to ensure the right projects end up on that final list. Let’s make sure your voice is heard by pledging a transit receives its fair share.
Now that the most recent tax season has just ended, we can begin to get to the dollars and cents of the Transportation Investment Act.
Local governments throughout the region submitted their transportation wish lists to the Georgia Department of Transportation on Mar. 30.
Metro Atlanta is not alone in pondering a different transportation. Cities in America’s heartland like Indianapolis and Kansas City have begun efforts to bring transit to their communities. Then, there are other cites like Charlotte, Dallas, Denver and Houston who have recently introduced new transit service – to acclaim.
We, at the Livable Communities Coalition, firmly believe that metro Atlanta must have a first-rate public transit network that serves the entire region and helps us compete nationally and internationally.
This is not a head-in-the-clouds aspiration; rather it is firmly based in the reality that metro Atlanta must have unified transportation planning that increasingly offers choices that help make our lives easier, more enjoyable and more profitable.
Let’s also be clear. We will have to pay for a new transportation future that better integrates our roads, buses, trains – and our desire to have better, more walkable communities.
That’s why the unconstrained list is so important.
First, we must identify the potential projects that promise to deliver value. Then, the Regional Transportation Roundtable is charged with the responsibility of identifying the projects that promise to deliver the most value.
The next few months will offer us the opportunity explore the merits of the projects included in the unconstrained list and evaluate whether they will deliver on the promise of value. That process has already begun with Ms. Hart’s coverage in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
If metro Atlanta demonstrates it is serious about its transportation future by selecting the right projects, we feel voters will support that kind of investment in the future – a future firmly based in a comprehensive transportation network that includes transit service that is easy to use and convenient to an increasing number of destinations.
IN THE NEWS – When I get to the office on Monday mornings, I make a habit of reading the headlines and the editorial sections from some of my favorite news sources and from others which I consider required reading.
This week I was glad to see an op-ed from The AJC editorial board endorsing the idea of a regional transportation sales tax.
As some of you may already know, our local governments – both cities and counties – have been working to provide an “unconstrained” list – unconstrained, at this point, by dollar spending limits – of transportation priorities to respond to the mandate in lastyear’s Transportation Investment Act.
Specifically, that mandate requires the region to develop a final transportation list prior to the referendum scheduled for summer 2012. That referendum will provide voters an opportunity to approve or reject a one-cent sales tax intended to fund transportation improvements throughout the region.
The AJC editorial board correctly notes that the region must seriously address its transportation problem in order to help the region remain competitive. They are also correct in calling for the kind regional cooperation that has not existed in the past when it comes to the issue of transportation.
The op-ed is silent, however, on the need for transit to be a significant part of any regional transportation-improvement effort. We think that’s crucial. On Mar. 29, the Livable Communities Coalition and 30 partner organizations launched our Fair Share for
Transit initiative to make that very point. In our opinion, a Fair Share for Transit on the final transportation list would include – at a minimum – 40 percent for transit or transit-related projects.
It is still early in the conversation, and we may still find that The AJC editorial board agrees with us. In the meantime, I applaud the editorial board for identifying what’s at stake for all of us in their editorial. I hope a future editorial will tackle the importance of seeing a very significant share of funding – a fair share in our view – dedicated to public transportation, bike and pedestrian improvements.