With a backdrop of the Chattahoochee River, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, touted her support for greenways and other infrastructure projects she hopes will be funded by Congress as part of the American Jobs Plan.
The proposals are part of what Bourdeaux called a plan to “future-fit the suburbs” — a way to focus infrastructure needs outside the central urban districts that already get a lot of attention. The proposals, she said, could ease congestion in Gwinnett County and other suburban areas.
“Addressing congestion is so important for unlocking economic opportunity,” Bourdeaux said Wednesday at Jones Bridge Park in Peachtree Corners.
Her priorities include a grant program to pay for greenways, including connecting existing paths and funding new paths in underserved areas; funding for more flexible transit options in the suburbs, including bus rapid transit; incentives for mall redevelopment in blighted areas; and the creation of an infrastructure bank to encourage public-private partnerships and environmentally sound projects.
Gwinnett and other parts of metro Atlanta could benefit from the proposals. The county recently purchased the Gwinnett Place Mall, and is conducting a bus rapid transit study to consider ways to improve transit options after a transit referendum failed narrowly in November.
Joe Allen, the executive director of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District, said what to do with a dying mall is a “vital aspect” of the community and a process that is happening across the nation. He and other leaders are in support of more bus-based transit options, he said.
Ben Ku, a Gwinnett County commissioner who attended the event, said trails and greenways improve residents’ quality of life. The passage of such a bill could help fund existing proposals at the county, he said.
“If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that humans need and even crave outdoor spaces,” Ku said. “To me, there’s no question this is an obvious yes.”
The mayors of Peachtree Corners and Norcross, Mike Mason and Craig Newton, also said they supported the proposals, which they said could help their communities recover from the economic toll of the pandemic. Trails increase property values and help people sell homes, Newton said.
If used for commuting, they also reduce congestion and improve air quality said Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission. He thanked Bourdeaux for her “keen focus on infrastructure” which he said “helped so much in this past year with our mental and emotional health.”
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