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T-SPLOST Debate: Why You Should Vote "Yes"

Though imperfect, it will improve metro Atlanta's transportation issues.

by Thomas L. Weyandt

On July 31, metropolitan Atlanta voters have a tremendous opportunity to shape the future of our region for years to come through the Regional Transportation Referendum.

The 157 projects across our 10-county region are the result of months of unprecedented collaboration among 21 elected officials from rural and urban metropolitan Atlanta. These leaders whittled down a wish list that was in excess of $20 billion to emerge with $6.14 billion in critical regional rail and road infrastructure improvements. The final list reflects local communities’ concerns and hopes for moving our region forward.

Additionally, there is an extra billion dollars for vital local projects such as increasing bicycle lane, pedestrian crossings and improving sidewalks right here in Atlanta. The result is a set of well-planned projects reflecting the complexity of travel patterns in the region, including:

  • Expanding of the city of Atlanta’s streetcar network, now under construction, which builds a foundation for new corridors in every direction;
  • Funding of an additional $600 million for MARTA to return the transit system to a state of good repair and help ensure future federal support;
  • Constructing rail service in the Clifton Corridor connecting MARTA to the Emory/CDC campuses;
  • Sharing of more than $1 billion by all local governments for locally identified priorities.

Is the list perfect? Probably not. Will it change the region’s direction for the better? Absolutely.

Most important of all, it took more than five years working with the Georgia General Assembly to get to this point, and it is clear we won’t have the same opportunity to address the region’s transportation challenges any time soon despite the wishful thinking of some critics.

'Is the list perfect? Probably not. Will it change the region’s direction for the better? Absolutely.'

If approved by voters, the projects are forecast to lead to a decrease of travel delays by 24 percent and an increase in transit use of 39 percent.  Air quality improvements are estimated to be the equivalent of removing 72,000 vehicles from the road each day. And residents will see dramatically improved access to major jobs centers and experience improved safety conditions on existing facilities.

In addition, the referendum will help address another problem: significant job losses. We lost 57,000 construction jobs in the last four years. These are hardworking women and men who used to be gainfully employed but now are unemployed or underemployed. The transportation and infrastructure projects related to the referendum are forecasted to generate 34,000 construction jobs and an $18 billion increase in personal income.

Specifically, city of Atlanta residents will see:

  • The rejuvenation of three of the most deficient bridges in our system;
  • The transformation of two major road corridors;
  • Upgrades to 21 of our highest priority corridors;
  • A new interchange for the Greenbriar area;
  • The addition of bus rapid transit on a major city arterial;
  • A $600+ million jump start for the Atlanta BeltLine with connection to the Atlanta Streetcar project;
  • A new regional mobility call center for our elderly population.

The Regional Transportation Referendum represents a comprehensive approach to the enormous and wide-spread transportation challenges we share throughout our region. I encourage all voters to learn more about the referendum and then make their voices heard by voting on July 31.

Mr. Weyandt is senior transportation policy advisor to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

For the opposing viewpoint, please click here.

Bryan Farley May 16, 2012 at 08:35 PM
Great information! I'll vote yes to start our future in the right direction!
Mark Sanders May 18, 2012 at 09:55 PM
I am a Conyers resident who used to live in East DeKalb county. I am against the T-SPLOST for many reasons. 1. No rail lines to be built anywhere south, east, or west of Metro Atlanta: How can supporters of this plan call this "fair" when many area south of the region are being left out? I find it absolutely absurd that funding for rails lines cannot be equally distributed in all regions in Metro Atlanta. Part of the reason why we have so much traffic in Atlanta is that developers are creating more jobs north Atlanta. Residents not living in north metro must commute long distances to work. There is no balance of job creation here in the metro area. 2. The state will waste taxpayers money. Residents in DeKalb and Fulton counties are both paying a penny sales tax that is still being collected over a period of 30 years. Since the collection of this tax, MARTA has not extended rail service to residents and business in South and East DeKalb county. In fact, transit services have been reduced and fare prices have increased. A recent investigation by WSB-TV showed that previous executives from MARTA have misappropriated funding! 3. Once the state collects the money for T-SPLOST, they can grant more funding toward certain regions and take away funds from others. Just because a project is "approved" doesn't mean that the state has to stay committed to it. 4. More funding would go toward roadways instead of mass transit. Are you kidding me? Say no to the T-SPLOST!!!
William Good May 22, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I love how the author points out that the list may not be perfect but it is a step in the right direction. I think many people are missing the
Space Ship May 22, 2012 at 07:10 PM
...rest of your post? Not really.
William Good May 24, 2012 at 09:16 PM
love how the author points out that the list may not be perfect but it is a step in the right direction. I think many people are missing the the fact that nothing can be perfect but this is definitely shifting our transportation efforts to the right direction.

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