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CID director stresses transit
in Village revitalization efforts

NORCROSS - Transit improvements are critical to redevelopment in the Gwinnett Village area, the leader of a local improvement district said.

Chuck Warbington, the director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District, said transit is a major component of plans to revitalize the area.

"Something's got to be done," he said. "This is a piece of the puzzle."

Bad congestion on Interstate 85 and in other areas of Gwinnett and the region is leading some businesses to leave the area, and causing others to stay away, Warbington and Transit Planning Board staff director Cheryl King said.

King presented the board's regional transit plan at a meeting at the Global Mall on Wednesday, where more than 60 people learned about the study, which includes proposed heavy rail, commuter rail, light rail and rapid and suburban bus improvements across the entire region.

While the plan has light rail extending from the existing Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority station in Doraville to the Gwinnett Place Mall, people requested that the service be extended to the Gwinnett Arena and even as far as the Mall of Georgia.

King said she thought that was a good idea, which the group would look into for a possible revision.

More than half the people at the meeting said they think the plan would dramatically increase mobility around Atlanta. Betty Warbington, Chuck Warbington's mother, said she would take transit from her home near Dacula to her job on Spalding Drive, if only it was available.

"It's got to go where you want it to go," she said.

Other area residents suggested looking at ways to incorporate recycled materials to keep costs low or look at funding mechanisms, such as a sales tax, to provide some relief. King estimated the new plan would cost $28 billion, in addition to the $26 billion needed to maintain existing MARTA lines.

John McHenry, the CID's program director, said he thinks the issue of transit has reached a tipping point. Sal Prizad, a Norcross resident and Georgia Department of Transportation employee, said the state cannot just keep building roads.

It's time to put the far-reaching transit plan into action, Larry Grady said.

"The concept is great, but they're 10 years late getting started," he said. "They don't need to miss the bus on this one."