This past week, the Atlanta Regional Transportation Investment Act (TIA) agreed upon a list of transportation projects to be performed around the state. These projects are to be funded with a penny sales tax, known locally as the T-SPLOST, that will be presented to voters in 2012 – though it is unclear if the vote will be uring the summer or on Election Day.
The T-SPLOST is estimated to bring in over six billion dollars in available funds for the TIA to implement a host of projects. The list of projects will be reviewed and finalized by the Department of Transportation in October. A “yes” vote in 2012 would authorize these projects to begin moving forward in 2013, with a goal for concluding the final list of projects within ten years.
This is the first of a three-part series. This part will look at the public transit projects that have been included in the TIA’s wish list. Part 2 will look at roadway projects within Atlanta and the I-285 bypass, or “inside the perimeter”. Part 3 will look at projects “outside the perimeter” and in the rest of Georgia.
Public transportation options have been a sticky subject in metro Atlanta for a long time. Several disparate entities attempt to provide bus and rail service to Atlantans, but none has the critical mass required to make them cost-effective or to break even. Rail service in Atlanta currently consists of four lines which only serve a few points of the metropolitan area, and bus service is seen as so haphazard and unreliable that most people choose their cars over the public transit option.
It is the hope of the TIA and T-SPLOST supporters that the projects contained in the proposed list greatly enhance metropolitan Atlanta’s ability to ferry large numbers of people quickly and efficiently. With that in mind, the following projects have been proposed.
- Extending the North Line of MARTA seven miles from Sandy Springs to Roswell and State Route 140
- Extending the East Line of MARTA five miles from Indian Creek to Wesley Chapel Road
- Building a rail spur from the North/Northeast Lines of Lindbergh Center to DeKalb Medical Center, Emory University, and the Centers for Disease Control
- Enhancing the GRTA Xpress Bus system
- Enhancing a regional mobility call center and transportation services for the elderly and disabled – services which have been removed from MARTA’s budget over the past couple of years
- Funding for the Atlanta Beltline project, which would combine residential and business development with existing track lines to form a rail ring around downtown and midtown Atlanta – and hopefully making it easier to travel within the city without two to three connections per trip.
- Clayton County Fixed Route transit service – which could be light rail and/or local bus service in dedicated lanes.
- FIxed transit (rail/dedicated highway lanes) from midtown Atlanta to Cumberland Mall/Transfer Center in Smyrna
- Fixed transit (rail/dedicated highway lanes) from midtown Atlanta to Gwinnett County
- Express bus services within Gwinnett County and between Gwinnett County and Atlanta
- Station Enhancements for MARTA
The above initiatives have been listed for funding totaling approximately $3.3 billion of the total required amount of $7 billion. $6.2 billion is expected to be raised via T-SPLOST, while the Georgia DOT and Atlanta Regional Commission have committed $800 million to date.