The Livable Communities Coalition

Working to improve Atlanta's quality of life through smart growth

Summer of listening informs transportation priorities

 

ATLANTA – With nearly 1 million residents reached over through a series of tele town halls, the process mandated by the Transportation Investment Act reaches a critical point at which the region’s wishes must be tempered by reality.

As Georgia Department of Transportation planning director Todd Long voiced last week, it is time to get real, “roll up your sleeves and pick projects.”

The Atlanta Regional Roundtable members then voted to assign the task of winnowing the unconstrained list to Atlanta Regional Commission staff.

On July 7, Atlanta Regional Commission staff will present their draft transportation list, reflecting their work in paring the $23 billion unconstrained list down to $11.5 billion- worth of proposed projects.

From there, the Roundtable will have to roll up their sleeves and pick projects.

Each of the tele town halls yielded information that should give the Roundtable members direction – and some political cover.

During the Fulton County tele town hall, an informal poll showed that 24 percent of respondents favored improvements to the I-285 and Georgia 400 interchange, 51 percent favored establishing transit in the BeltLine corridor and 25 percent expressed neither is important.

Clayton County residents participated in the last tele town hall and showed a strong preference (65 percent) for restoring bus service in the county.

Similarly, DeKalb County and Cobb Country participants favored rail expansion. Even Gwinnett County fell in line.

These informal results affirm what many other polls have found:  metro Atlanta residents have come to accept that transit is important to the region’s future.

The challenge for the Roundtable will be to select the right transit projects that offer the most promise to the entire region while also serving the entire region.

Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker seems to understand that point well.

“What I learned very quickly [as mayor] is that we [residents of Johns Creek] are really part of a bigger eco-system – that eco-system being metro Atlanta,” Bodker said during the Fulton County tele town hall. “I believe all of our quality of life will collectively be improved if we can fix the system and make it work better.

That’s my goal in this process.”

If the Roundtable selects the right projects for the October 15 deadline, then metro residents may pass the one-cent sales tax in a vote scheduled for summer 2012.

If the Roundtable does not, metro Atlanta’s world-class transportation aspirations will collapse, for a skeptical public is already wary of another tax.

As a WSBTV poll shows, currently only 33 percent of metro Atlanta residents favor passing the tax.

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