As news of a draft list of regional transportation projects worked its way through the 10-county metro Atlanta region, everyone had their own ideas about what should have been on the list.
And what still could be.
Opinions already are plentiful.
North of Atlanta, there were still concerns about a central governance agency for regional transportation; while the southern counties were upset about the lack of transit projects designated for their communities. There was also concern about the ratio of roads versus transit projects included in the list. And with the still troubled economy, there remained opposition from residents to any project or program that would add taxes -- even 1 cent -- to already strained budgets.
The 10-year tax is expected to raise $7.2 billion, of which $6.1 billion goes to the regional project list. The other $1.1 billion may be spent by counties and cities on transportation projects of their choosing.
Georgia State University student and frequent public transportation user Chloe Hill supports the tax, specifically the roads projects.
“I want more trains, but what really needs to be fixed first is roads and bus service, because both are really bad in this area.”
Still, it’s time for Atlanta to turn its attention to rail, said Cobb commuter Kevin Jones.
For a true investment in transit that would jump-start economic development in all parts of the region, the mix of projects should be closer to 60 percent for transit and 40 percent for roads, said Taylor Rice, board chairman of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce.
Officials in Henry and Clayton counties lobbied unsuccessfully for rail projects in their counties, securing instead road projects, as well as revived bus service in Clayton.
"The growth and direct economic impact of commuter rail in Henry and Clayton counties would be explosive, and you can’t put a price tag on that kind of thing,” Rice said.
Two months of public comment, in a dozen meetings across the region, are scheduled to determine whether changes need to be made to improve the project list's chances for passage in 2012.
Whatever the final list turns out to be, it won’t be enough to sway voters in Cherokee County, said H.T. Bradford.
“We don’t look for this to do anything for us,” said Bradford, a leader of the Hickory Flat Tea Party Patriots, who plans to work on defeating the regional tax. “This is not worth swallowing a 1 percent tax. There is nothing wrong with traffic in Cherokee County that getting up 15 minutes early won’t solve. This will be another sales tax that won’t go away.”
Staff writers April Hunt and Patrick Fox contributed to this article.
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