Much has been written and reported recently about the transportation project list being developed right now by the Atlanta Regional Roundtable. Allow me to summarize how we got to where we are today, what is immediately ahead of us and what this opportunity means – I will try to be brief. This is a very important opportunity to understand, so please read this post and then pass it on.
Metropolitan Atlanta has a problem with transportation. Georgia spends less money per capita on transportation than all but one other state. We have underinvested in our infrastructure, and we now have traffic congestion that is adversely impacting our economy and quality of life. After four years of repeated attempts to get a bill passed in the Georgia General Assembly allowing the citizens of metro Atlanta to tax themselves to fund transportation improvements, we finally had a bill pass in the 2010 legislative session, which the Governor signed, creating the Transportation Investment Act of 2010. This gives the 10-county metro Atlanta region, as well as the 11 other regions that make up Georgia, the opportunity to add an additional penny sales tax for 10 years to fund specific transportation projects and programs within each region.
Roundtables have met in each region of the state, consisting of county commission chairs and mayors. These groups of locally-elected officials have held public meetings to decide how the expected tax receipts over the 10-year period should be invested. They have been told how much money should be collected, and they have been given a list of eligible projects and programs which could be funded with the tax. The public has had opportunities to voice their opinions about various projects. In the Atlanta region, a series of public meetings is being held this month to explain what has been done to date and what is ahead. Please attend a meeting.
This is the first time in Georgia that regions will come together to take regional votes to solve regional problems. Also for the first time, we will have an opportunity to create a pool of funds that can support not only roads and bridges, to which our gasoline tax is limited, but all modes of transportation, including transit, pedestrian and bike facilities.
This effort is about jobs and quality of life for our families, our region and our future. It is about job creation and keeping jobs in the region. It is about relieving traffic congestion so that we can spend more time with our families and at work and less time in traffic. It is about creating more options for getting where we need to go. This effort is also about creating very clear expectations regarding where the funds will be spent, what projects will be built, how much they will cost and when they will be delivered.
The project list for each region will be set by October 15. You will have an opportunity to vote next July to create this 10-year tax to fund the October 15 project list. This is big. This is important. Be informed.