Read more about the overall bill here.
The bill would create a new board — dubbed Atlanta-region Transit Link, or “ATL” — to oversee transit planning in the 13-county metro Atlanta area. The transit-related sales taxes raised in any county would only be spent in that community, but the board would have to sign off on local project lists.
“This is not about forcing counties to take MARTA,” Tanner, a Republican from Dawsonville, said.
As written, though, many of the tenets of the bill, including the assembly of the regional "ATL" board, would not take effect until January. Nash has long said that she wants her county to vote on some kind of transit expansion this fall, and it's unclear if such a referendum could be held before the bill, if adopted, became effective.
Under the current version of the proposed legislation, any local referendums would have to include a specific list of projects approved by the ATL board — a body that wouldn’t be officially formed until nearly two months after Gwinnett’s proposed vote in November.
If Gwinnett’s referendum were not held this fall (during a gubernatorial election), it would likely be postponed another two years until the 2020 presidential election to ensure maximum turnout, officials have said.
That would be a long time to wait with the iron perhaps hotter than it’s ever been.
Gwinnett last voted down joining MARTA in 1990 and Gwinnett County Transit currently consists only of six local bus routes and five express routes to locations inside I-285. But the county’s demographics and its attitudes toward transit have changed dramatically in recent years, and momentum for expanding services in some fashion has revved up.
The county's comprehensive transit planning study is expected to be completed in coming months and will guide decisions on what form any transit expansion might take. Everything from more bus routes to bus rapid transit and rail are being examined, and early surveys conducted as part of the study suggested Gwinnettians may indeed be willing to pay a sales tax to fund transit expansion.
“It’s very important, I believe, to do something about transit now,” Nash said Tuesday, speaking about both Gwinnett and the whole Atlanta region. “I believe that we have a window of opportunity that, if we don’t take advantage of it now, perhaps that window is not going to be open again for some time.”
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