Ever complained about traffic in metro Atlanta? Odds are you’ve had a few choice words about the headaches you face to get where you’re going. In fact, for years now, studies have found an overwhelming number of people say transportation is our #1 problem.
I’m happy to tell you we are driving full-speed ahead on the road to improvements.
In November, voters in Fulton County outside of Atlanta said “yes” to a Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST), a three-quarter of a penny tax on the dollar that could generate more than $650 million over the next five years. It’s a small investment that will fuel a huge payoff.
The best part is that YOU picked the projects. Leaders in the 13 cities outside of Atlanta fanned out in their communities, asking residents what transportation improvements they would like to see. A bridge repair in College Park, sidewalks in Hapeville, pedestrian and bike paths in Sandy Springs. Every project on the approved list will benefit citizens right in their own back yard where they live, work and play.
While Fulton County has its shovels ready, the city of Atlanta is also making transportation a top priority. Atlanta voters approved a 0.4 percent TSPLOST and overwhelmingly said “yes” to a half-penny tax for MARTA that will raise a whopping $2.5 billion for light rail and other transit improvements.
Atlanta’s approval of MARTA funding by a huge margin has me encouraged. While Fulton County’s immediate focus is on infrastructure, we are embracing MARTA and the role transit can play in the County in the years ahead. I will soon begin discussions to get other leaders on board with a transit initiative.
The new taxes will go in effect on April 1, 2017. The tax we collect is not solely on the shoulders of Fulton County residents. Our visitors traveling here from around the world will contribute to the revenue with every purchase they make.
Let me say that getting where we are today has not been easy. Over the past year I have convened all of the mayors in Fulton County, and we had some lively discussions. But we set aside our differences and today – from Chattahoochee Hills to Atlanta to Milton – we are moving forward together. I know our journey down the long road is just beginning, but it’s a win-win for everyone who travels in metro Atlanta.