There’s an old saying: If you don’t like the weather, just wait; it’ll change.
The same can’t be said for Atlanta traffic. Atlantans have been waiting for a while now, and it’s not getting any better. That’s what Georgia’s been doing for the last eight years — waiting, watching the commutes and traffic jams get longer.
After years of being at the top of its to-do list, the legislature passed transportation legislation this last session. The new law puts the future of transportation here in the hands of voters.
In a 2012 voter referendum, Georgians will be asked whether they want to institute a 10-year penny sales tax to fund transportation improvements.
The measure divides the state into 12 regions. Representatives from within the region will decide what transportation projects the tax will fund and the voters will then vote on whether they want to pay for it. Each region will decide its own fate, but individual counties can’t opt out if the majority opt in. If all 12 regions in Georgia approve, the tax could bring in $1.5 billion a year — that is $15 billion spent on improving our roads and other transportation options.
Many have worked long and hard to get to this point and the work will continue right up until the August 2012 vote. The Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce will no doubt be front and center in the campaign for passage. That group, which worked diligently to get the funding bill turned into law, hosted a transportation information summit Friday in which the legislation and 2012 referendum were discussed.
Gwinnett is in a region with other metro Atlanta counties Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton, Rockdale, Cherokee, Douglas, Fayette and Henry. There’s no question as to the need for voters to say yes to improved navigation of these counties.
Spending $15 billion over 10 years won’t fix all of Atlanta’s crippling traffic problems, but it will go a long way in providing capital to bring much-needed, long overdue projects to life.
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