The Livable Communities Coalition

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

Roundtable’s road show stops in Henry County

Henry County Commission Chairwoman B.J. Mathis welcomes the crowd at Tuesday's roundtable public meeting.

MCDONOUGH – Unlike the town halls recently held in Cobb County by Cobb’s conservative legislative delegation, Tuesday’s official public meeting in Henry County was far less dramatic. Public comments indicated support for a good project list that leads to a positive vote in next year’s referendum.

Henry County’s Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable members, Locust Grove Mayor Lorene Lindsey and County Commission Chairwoman B.J. Mathis, welcomed Henry County residents and business owners to learn the details of the draft project list approved Aug. 15 by the roundtable’s executive committee.

“The purpose of the meeting tonight is to answer your questions and to have input from you on your thoughts regarding the list,” Henry County Commission Chairwoman B.J. Mathis said. “Tonight is just simply information that we need to receive back from you, and we’re on a very short timetable.”

The full 21-member roundtable must approve a final project list by Oct. 15.

Not much has changed for Henry County since the executive committee’s vote. South metro business interests continue to push the roundtable to include the Griffin commuter rail line on the final list.

According to Henry County Chamber of Commerce president Kay Pippin, Georgia can no longer afford to perpetuate the existence of two Georgias, the Georgia that exists north of Interstate 20 and the Georgia that spills past Macon into south Georgia.

“Cities south of Atlanta are perishing,” Pippin noted. “This is a chance to connect the two Georgias, to possibly connect Macon, McDonough, Hampton, Griffin – struggling places – and on to Savannah.”

While north metro Atlanta quibbles over the best ways to relieve congestion, south metro Atlanta worries about the economic consequences of a divided region that could threaten passage of a 1-cent sales tax in next year’s referendum. Transit –specifically commuter rail – seems key to Henry County’s economic interests.

Georgians for Passenger Rail chief executive officer Gordon Kenna directs his comments to the panel, urging the roundtable to reconsider the proposed Griffin commuter rail line.

Georgians for Passenger Rail chief executive officer Gordon Kenna still hopes his organization can build a case for the project. Kenna reminded the roundtable that other regions in the state have committed to the commuter rail line, even though metro Atlanta has thus far failed to do so.

“My question is: Does it matter to Atlanta that an adjacent region has invested in this line but can’t do so, if Atlanta does not pursue the developmental line?”

The roundtable has thus far collected input from more than 200,000 metro Atlanta residents over the course of the last 6 months in an unprecedented effort to get citizen input for a final project list that will shape the region’s transportation future.

And, according to Norcross Mayor and roundtable chairman Bucky Johnson, the 12 public meetings present an opportunity for the roundtable “to hear from our neighbors one more time and make sure we’re putting list on the ballot that voters can support.”

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