Atlanta Forward / Another View: Transportation group could use your input

Mobility is the lifeblood of any metropolitan region. If our transportation network is ineffective, gridlocked residents will seek a higher quality of life elsewhere. Businesses will go under, or will take their commerce elsewhere.

Understanding this direct link between transportation and the economy, the 21 members of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable are working to maximize the region’s return on investment when discussing projects that might be funded by the Transportation Investment Act referendum. State law tasked the roundtable, which includes 10 county commission chairs and 11 mayors, with developing a list of projects worth approximately $7 billion that residents across our 10 counties can vote on in 2012.

We understand that residents want significant change and that our region’s transportation network must provide more options in the future. Before work began on the project list, the roundtable approved the criteria a project must meet before it can be considered. A project must have regional impact, maximizing the number of people it benefits. Projects are being analyzed to determine their effect on the economy, air quality, commute times and other variables. And the maps being drawn have no city or county boundaries.

We recognize that people don’t live their lives in a single jurisdiction. For example, Douglas County endorses improvements to the interchange of I-20 and I-285, located in Atlanta, because thousands of Douglas County residents use that interchange daily. So do residents from south Fulton County, Fayette and other parts of our region. And that interchange is no different from many other potential projects.

Of course, road improvements aren’t the only types of projects under consideration. Expanding and improving the region’s public transit network will also be a major consideration. Proposed projects focus on better connections to job centers through expansion of the existing system and through new service into suburban job centers.

Our immediate responsibility is to listen to your needs. By October, our job is to ensure the project list will ease congestion and create a better quality of life for residents around the region over the next 10 years, while creating a regional transportation vision for generations to come.

Tell us what you want at www.atlantaregionalround, or contact a roundtable representative. In 2012, we hope you will decide whether the list meets your criteria, and then vote.

Bucky Johnson, Norcross mayor, is Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable chairman.