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316, Sugarloaf extension, transit study on final transportation tax list

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Years ago, tolls were considered to transform Ga. Highway 316, creating interchanges at the stop lights where cars screech to a halt on their way to Athens.

The idea didn't sit well with drivers, so, without funding, the stop lights remain.

But Thursday, the long-awaited grade-separation project got new life, with the Gwinnett intersections making the final list for funding from a proposed 10-year regional sales tax.

Nearly $900 million in Gwinnett projects were included in the tally of 157 enhancements approved Thursday by a regional roundtable of leaders from the 10-county Atlanta region. Over the past year, the roundtable whittled down a list of $23 billion in requests to $6.1 billion.

"This group of 21 elected officials has been listening to their constituents, talking with each other and rolling up their sleeves to debate the merits of different projects for almost a year now," said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who chaired the roundtable. "This final list of investments will move us forward and make sure the Atlanta region remains competitive."

Many other long-talked-about projects would be funded with the tax, which will be before voters next year, including a $296 million extension to Sugarloaf Parkway through Dacula, a transformation of Snellville's plagued intersection of U.S. Highway 78 and Ga. Highway 124 and the widening of Ga. Highway 20 in Sugar Hill.

While many counties received new transit projects or extensions, Gwinnett received an earmark of $95 million transit corridor study along I-85 north, which could be the precursor to a proposed light rail line from Doraville to the Gwinnett Arena.

The tax would also dedicate $40 million to the operations of the Gwinnett County Transit system.

Other projects that made the list include improvements to Buford Highway, Five Forks Trickum Road, Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth Highway, Peachtree Parkway and a bridge upgrade to Dacula Road at a rail line.

Several Interstate 85 overpasses would be funded including Hillcrest Road and West Liddell Road connectors near Gwinnett Place Mall and the conversion of an overpass to an interchange at Gravel Springs Road.

The project didn't live up to expectations for local activists Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley, who released a statement for Georgia Tea Party Patriots.

"Now that the final project list has been released we are more determined than ever to make sure this T-SPLOST is DOA. For instance, the idea of targeting $95 million in taxpayers money to a light rail study in Gwinnett that no one will ever use is fiscal irresponsibility at its worst," the statement said. "We all agree there is a traffic problem in metro Atlanta, and we support infrastructure improvements like bridges, road improvements, lane widening, traffic lights, etc. But let's be frank, this is not an infrastructure improvement plan. The project list is not targeted to benefit the majority of citizens in the areas they need relief the most. This is a mass transit tax targeted at financial Titanic MARTA. We are in the process of forming a PAC to help candidates and issues. We will educate citizens, fight this, and turn out the votes when it comes up on the ballot."

But Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who participated in the unanimous vote on the list Thursday, said she was satisfied with the list that will go before voters.

"I'm pleased that the regional roundtable has completed its work to develop a list of transportation projects that could be funded with a special purpose penny sales tax," she said. "The list is now available online for voters to consider before next July's referendum."

Comments

TiredTaxPayer 2 years, 6 months ago

The State of Georgia is fooling itself if it thinks that the voters will give them another tax after they have misused the ones already in place IE the Public Safety user fee the 400 toll way and the I-85 fiasco. This tax will never go away and should be defeated at the polls. Our transportation problems will not go away until we make wise decisions and not deceive the voters .

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Hangdog 2 years, 6 months ago

With the mess that GaDOT and SRTA has made of 85 with their HOT Lane/Peach Pass fiasco, hopefully voters will vote NO to this T-SPLOST cash grab.

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cwkimbro 2 years, 6 months ago

Or... we can just vote for what the tax will or will not give us...

-starting to convert 316 to a freeway where there are bad traffic tie ups -expanding a freeway like Sugarloaf pkwy to the Mall of Georgia from 316 -Crossings over I-85 away from congested interchanges -better access to Peachtree Corners businesses' -new interchange at 124 and 78

We can complain about the Hot lanes all we want, but this vote has absolutely nothing to do with the HOT lanes one way or another. That was constructed by other means through the GDOT using a federal grant.

The projects listed above, among a few others, however are what this vote is about. I'm not going to say people should vote for or against it... but lets not take our eyes what this vote is really about. We either like what we get from the limited 10 year tax (which will end unless we re-vote it in place) or we don't.

It has nothing to do with I-85 GA400 and won't change anything other than what it listed. -period-

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NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

It has everything to do with I-85 and GA400 and every other such gross misuse of taxpayer dollars for transportation initiatives. Here's the deal. We didn't get a vote on HOT lanes. We didn't get a vote on extending the tolls on GA400. What we did get is sold on a 20 year plan for tolls to pay for the GA400 extension. What we did get is a so called trial HOT project that is the catalyst for what's to come for the rest of Atlanta. Now that it has more than been paid back, the toll booths are still there. Dice it and slice it all you want. For household expenditures of just $50,000 per year, it means a $500 tax liability plus the new toll should you use it. Try your argument all you want for people outside the tax ring helping pay for it, but the bottom line is, while they may travel inside the ring to pay for $1,000 or $2,000 worth of goods over the year, the rest of us have to live and work and die in this community. We're not going to travel outside the ring to buy day-to-day goods for our household. As for this joke of a plan? We do get a vote, and I'm going to do my part to make sure that this time, people know exactly what they are voting for.

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newbie 2 years, 6 months ago

I would like to know your plan. I understand this is a challenging tax to swallow, but this region is losing business due to traffic congestion and our quality of life is constantly getting worse. Time Warner just took 500 jobs away from this city for that very reason. To believe that this issue can be fixed by just focusing on our own county is ignorant. We are the definition of regional community. To believe that what other counties do and what we do here don't effect each other is irrational. I can appreciate that it's a difficult thing to add, but we need plan and I'd love to hear more options. If there's not another feasible option to address this problem REGIONALLY then we must move forward. Standing still in changing times will be our demise as a community.

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CWarbington 2 years, 6 months ago

Agree with newbie. We can whine and cry about traffic congestion and say a solution is to get up 1 hour earlier or move to another place or we can take the bull by the horns invest in projects that will have a real impact on traffic relief and economic develoment. The 10% reduction in traffic congestion over the past year is from loss of jobs and business. Not my idea of how to provide traffic relief.

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grayram 2 years, 6 months ago

I think the peach pass lanes are going to work out well. Also the projects proposed here are good ones. Lets approve it.

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hubertsaam 2 years, 6 months ago

Sure we can save a couple of buck in taxes now but in the long run all that time lost sitting in traffic is going to cost the region a lot of more in lost productivity, lost business, lost jobs and increased pollution.Voting against the proposed transportation projects is being penny wise and dollar stupid.

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JW 2 years, 6 months ago

What about the 40 million dollars to support those empty buses that drive around Gwinnett? After this HOT fiasco I'm not voting one thin dime for any additional taxes. These folks don't have enough sense to use it properly.

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NewsReader 2 years, 6 months ago

You people crack me up. I moved here long before you gave the first thought about Georgia and in particular Gwinnett County. It makes no difference where we move to get away from you people who view urban sprawl as "progress". Your idea of progress is the more the better. Problem is, you're perfectly content on expanding it to oblivion until there is no more real estate to do so. You're like a cancer spreading across the region. And also like a cancer, you expect someone else to be your host and subsidize your expansion. You want to work in Marietta? Live there. If a 2 hour drive to Atlanta is a problem, move there. For you to expect the rest of society to subsidize your lifestyle choices and transportation requirements is a ridiculous expectation. Don't guess you were here when Georgia was a 3% tax state when the 1 Cent Sales Tax was initiated to pay for MARTA. Don't suppose you are aware of the $2.3Billion shortfall to shore up the MARTA infrastructure that is totally independent of the $6.1Billion earmarked for this absurd tax initiative. Tell ya what. You promote the tax. I'll promote against it. We'll see what happens.

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dav 2 years, 6 months ago

Well said JW "These folks don't have enough sense to use it properly." That is basically what it all boils down to.

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R 2 years, 5 months ago

The congestion will continue REGARDLESS of the tax project list – even the supporters of the tax have indicated “it’s just a START”. (Source 11 Alive interview) If it’s just a START- that alone indicates that it MUST run longer than 10 years to contribute a solution. So… on just this single premise alone, the pro stance FAILS due to deceptive advertizing and the 6 MILLION dollars spent (or that will be) to market this boondoggle. Must we have a BIG DIG size fiasco here before we realize this is the WRONG time in our economy to double down on the shell game? We are being asked to believe that this new funding will somehow be handled better than the existing examples provided. In just about every investment financial disclosure you’ll find the following paraphrase; “while past performance is NOT a guarantee of future returns, it is a trend indicator of likely outcomes.” Recent history indicates that there seems to be a bit of being told one thing and getting another, there has not been much done to alter this perception. The suggestion of ADDING YET ANOTHER LEVEL of government that must be funded is not HELPING. For businesses, timing is everything and to attempt to “market’ this tax in this economy and expect to have that campaign succeed is truly a sales job Extraordinaire. As to anyone being undecided or against this proposal, as the information stands at this point, being called ignorant or any variant thereof only contributes hostility and DOESN’T move the discussion forward. There seems to be a lot of that and for those in the Gwinnett region this trend brings up an uncomfortable parallel with Propeller Air and the recent “Briscoe fun had by all”.

The regional stance could be understood that like the EU, we have several weaker local governments and a few stronger ones in both revenue and management. We could understand residents in those weaker counties holding a position that they are entitled to funding, possibly because in their mind, they have contributed to the success of the others. But these positions would be incorrect and all the more reason for the view that projects should remain at the LOCAL level. So the regional view hasn’t been proven (to this poster anyway) as the only viable alternative. As to the Time Warner relocation, I’m not privy to the confidential negotiations- but one can bet with certainty that an incentive package was included – perhaps one the metro area chose not to match.

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