In two months, residents across the 10-county Atlanta region, including City of Atlanta residents, will head to the polls to vote on the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) referendum that would fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a regional 1 percent sales tax.
The vote will come on July 31 and a lot is riding on it. Last week, a Rosetta Stone poll was released by WSB-TV indicating that 42 percent of likely voters would vote yes. No information about the demographics of those polled was provided and the margin of error was plus or minus 3 percent.
Proponents of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) contend the economic future of Atlanta and the state are hanging in the balance. Those who oppose it don’t want another tax and cite a general lack of trust and confidence in the state government’s ability to successfully see the 157-project list through.
If you had to vote today, how would you and why?
Last week, the Atlanta BeltLine and the City of Atlanta hosted a sparsely attended meeting with the Cobb County Department of Transportation, to discuss proposed transit alternatives that could connect the Cumberland area to Midtown.
The meeting gave BeltLine Sr. Project Manager Patrick Sweeney the opportunity to outline what the TSPLOST would mean for Atlanta and Midtown. The BeltLine has secured $600 million of the project list, including $227 million for a 'crosstown' line that would connect the westside of the BeltLine with the eastside.
It has not been determined whether the 'crosstown' line would initially utilize 10th Street or North Avenue. Which do you think would be better served?
The Atlanta BeltLine and Streetcar projects will build 10.2 miles of new transit, with approximately five miles on the Atlanta BeltLine corridor and five miles on city streets through midtown and downtown, connecting to the Atlanta Streetcar (now underway) and MARTA in three locations.
The BeltLine referendum projects would be built in four segments:
- Atlanta Streetcar Extension West: This project would build an extension of the Atlanta Streetcar with access to the Peachtree Center MARTA station, Georgia World Congress Center and Georgia Tech.
- Crosstown / Midtown Connection: This leg would build streetcar transit across Midtown, connecting the Atlanta BeltLine’s east and westsides and either the Midtown or North Ave. MARTA Station.
- Atlanta BeltLine West: This segment would be built directly on the old rail corridor on the Atlanta BeltLine’s westside and run 4.9 miles from a new MARTA station at Donald Lee Hollowell near Maddox Park and run south to the Kroger Citi-Center.
- Atlanta BeltLine East: This section would also be built on the old rail corridor, alongside the current Eastside Trail. Transit would run from Piedmont Park, through the crosstown connection, and down to meet the Atlanta Streetcar.
The Atlanta BeltLine and Streetcar projects will use the same vehicles and systems. For example, riders would have a single-seat ride from Piedmont Park to downtown with no transfers.
Whichever 'crosstown' route is chosen – 10th St. or North Ave. – the plan would be to also construct on the other route in the future. Consultants have been working with BeltLine officials on a transit implementation strategy. Current diagrams show North Ave. being the route used, but that decision has not been made according to Sweeney, who indicated that a decision could be announced “within the next month or two.”
“Both are great transit options,’’ Sweeney told Patch. “We’re getting into some of the details of traffic and market demand and development capacity. We’re still working with consultants, particularly on the development capacity side. We don’t have all the results, but they’re coming in. We’re hoping to wrap this up soon.”
Among the referendum transit projects approved last fall by the Atlanta Region TIA Roundtable that would affect Midtown and West Midtown include:
Piedmont Avenue from Cheshire Bridge Road to Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive ‐ Multimodal Corridor Improvements
10th Street from Howell Mill Road to Monroe Drive ‐ Traffic Improvements
14th Street from Howell Mill Road to Piedmont Road ‐ Traffic Improvements
Howell Mill Road from I‐75 North to 10th Street ‐ Traffic Improvements
Monroe Drive from Piedmont Circle to US 78/278 (Ponce de Leon Avenue) ‐ Traffic Improvements
North Avenue from US 41 (Northside Drive) to US 23 (Moreland Avenue) ‐ Traffic Improvements
Peachtree Street from Spring Street to SR 154 (Trinity Avenue) ‐ Traffic Improvements
US 78/278 (Ponce de Leon Avenue) from Spring Street to Clifton Road ‐ Traffic Improvements
Spring Street from Peachtree Street to SR 154 (Trinity Avenue) ‐ Traffic Improvements
Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Streetcar Transit and Trail ‐ Downtown to Northeast
Atlanta Beltline and Atlanta Streetcar Transit and Trail ‐ Downtown and Midtown to Southwest
Enhanced Premium Transit Service – Acworth/Kennesaw/Town Center to MARTA Arts Center Station
According to BeltLine officials, benefits of the City of Atlanta transit projects include:
- Direct connections for more than 100,000 jobs within a ¼ mile of the routes.
- Direct connections for tens of thousands of students at Georgia Tech and GSU.
- Direct connections to the North Avenue and Peachtree Center MARTA stations.
- New MARTA station and connection at Joseph E. Boone Blvd.
- Direct, last mile connections to key regional destinations, such as Piedmont Park, Centennial Olympic Park, Georgia Aquarium, Phillips Arena Georgia World Congress Center, Carter Center, MLK Jr. National Historic site, and downtown and midtown circulation from MARTA.
Do you have questions about the proposed 1 cent sales tax? The Atlanta BeltLine will be hosting a pair of "Transportation Referendum Information Sessions" in the next week. Both meetings are from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and the information presented will be the same at each meeting.
- Westside Study Group Meeting
- When: Thursday, May 31, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Atlanta Community Food Bank, 732 Joseph E. Lowery Boulevard, 30318
- Northside Study Group Meeting
- When: Monday, June 4, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Where: Piedmont Hospital, McRae Auditorium, 1984 Peachtree Road, 30309
Also, on June 7, the Georgia Tech Business Network will host a public forum on the transportation referendum. The 6:30 p.m. event will be at LeCraw Auditorim located in the Georgia Tech College of Management at 800 West Peachtree Street.
- The panelists include Mark Toro, Managing Partner, North American Properties; Dave Williams, Vice President of Transportation, Metro Atlanta Chamber; and Debbie Dooley, National Coordinator, Tea Party Patriots. Catherine Ross who chairs the Center for Quality Growth & Regional Development at Georgia Tech, will serve as the moderator. See here for more information and to register.
Finally, elected officials in each of the 10 Atlanta-area counties will be holding free "wireside chats" in June to answer citizens' questions on the upcoming TSPLOST vote.
- City of Atlanta Councilmember Lamar Willis hold a session on June 4 at 6:15 p.m.
- Citizens can access the session by calling 404-463-3227 or by visiting www.wiresidechats.com.
- Each chat will last for one hour and will focus on projects in the local officials’ areas. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions directly of their local officials. If a question is not answered during the call, the caller will receive a response via email.
- The Atlanta BeltLine contributed to this story