Poll shows support for area rail service

NORCROSS - More than half of Gwinnett County residents see rail service as a good option for relieving congestion problems, according to a poll released today.

Fifty-six percent of residents who responded to a November poll financed by the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District were in favor of building a rail service that connects throughout the metro region.

But when asked whether they would be willing to levy a new tax to pay for it, people were less likely to respond well. Only 34 percent of the 510 active voters surveyed said they thought Gwinnett should impose a new sales tax to pay for a rail system and road improvements.

"Generally speaking, people think rail is a good idea, outside of MARTA, outside of taxes," Gwinnett Village CID director Chuck Warbington said. "Sixty-four percent of the population said they'd use it. I'm astonished, I'm amazed."

The poll was released in conjunction with a study about extending the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority's heavy rail line from the Doraville station to the Gwinnett Place Mall at a cost of $250 million a mile.

Questions also showed that Gwinnett residents have a favorable opinion of MARTA and think congestion is a bigger problem than crime, illegal immigration or the drought.

"I think people want options," Warbington said. "They see building roads is not going to get us out of this mess that we're in."

Two-thirds of Gwinnett residents who responded to the telephone poll live in more rural areas of the county, Warbington said, and had just as much interest in creating transit options as did those who live in Gwinnett's urban areas.

Warbington said he thinks traffic and the county's makeup have changed drastically since voters last rejected a referendum that would have funded a MARTA expansion in Gwinnett, in 1990. The poll, which has a margin of error of 4 percent, shows that people want transit options in the region, he said.

"I consider this somewhat of a mandate to me," Warbington said. "When people tell me now that there's no support, there is clear support for MARTA and for rail." "I want to enjoy this for a few hours," Muschamp said. "I'll be thinking about Buford soon enough."

Lovett has a state title, but it came all the way back in 1970 when Class B was the classification for the GHSA's second-smallest schools.

"We're not afraid of Buford," Hicks said. "I'm just glad to get to play them again."