What’s on your transportation wish list?

You’re the ones sitting in traffic, so what would you like to see on the transportation to-do list being developed now?

Proponents of a new penny sales tax for regional transportation dream of putting metro Atlanta in the big leagues of modern transit and roadway systems, write AJC reporters Johnny Edwards and Tammy Joyner.

Some of those visions are already emerging as cities and counties assemble their wish lists of projects, which are due to the state March 30, the reporters write.

Here’s a small sample of the wish lists that the reporters compiled:

Cobb County

  • Creating a high-capacity transit system, likely light rail, in the U.S. 41/I-75 Northwest Corridor from Acworth to MARTA’s Arts Center Station: $2 billion.

Fayette County

  • Making roadway and intersection improvements to the East Fayetteville Bypass, from Ga. 85 to South Jeff Davis Drive: $39.4 million.

Fulton County

  • Widening Cascade-Palmetto Highway from Campbellton Road to Campbellton-Fairburn Road: $36.8 million.

Gwinnett County

  • Creating four light-rail sections — from the Doraville MARTA station to Norcross, from there to the Indian Trial Park-and-Ride lot, from there to Gwinnett Place, and from there to Gwinnett Arena: $954.75 million.

What would you like to see?

Do you think the tax will be approved or defeated at the polls next year? Why?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

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60 comments Add your comment

PA

March 21st, 2011
7:38 am

Rail is great if everybody is going to the same place. But most of us aren’t.

If you go rail and then have to go from the end point to somewhere else to reach your destination, it starts taking more time than a car would. And forget it if you work any sort of schedule outside 9to5 which many of us actually do.

Rationale Georgian

March 21st, 2011
7:40 am

The Gwinnett light rail proposal is a good one, though how about extending it to the Mall of Georgia in Buford?

Fed up with the DOT

March 21st, 2011
7:58 am

This area’s politics and bigotry messed up big time with MARTA.

The solution is simple.

There are 3 highways criss crossing the city and one big loop around it. Simply remove the HOV lanes and run Trains in the center of each highway, 20, 75, 575, 675, 85, 985, 285 and 400. Hook them up with the existing MARTA system. Build Transit stations over the highways (much like the Oasis concept in Chicago). Provide bus or train service to each station from surrounding neighborhoods. Also provide adequate parking at the stations.

This city could have been progressive starting in the late 70’s. 30 years later it has yet to grow up. When I first saw the MARTA layout in 1979 I thought that the city was on the right track. Unfortunately they jumped the track years ago!

GaPatriot

March 21st, 2011
7:59 am

Every rail system throughout the country operates at a loss. Amtrak is in the middle of the densest populated area, rarely are there empty seats on the trains and continues to need huge federal subsidies. The feds will not bail us out – we will be stuck subsidizing the few people who use the system. The Cobb transit buses are virtually empty and cost a fortune. We can’t afford it.

Mike

March 21st, 2011
7:59 am

The Cobb and Gwinnett light rail lines are good ideas, but they also need to consider connecting them with a light rail line along the Perimeter/I-285 – that way people in Cobb and Gwinnett who work in the Perimeter area can use the train to get to work (more east-west connections than just north and south).

They should also consider rebuilding the I-285/400 interchange and commuter rail projects like the “Brain Train” from Atlanta to Athens.

Rival

March 21st, 2011
8:20 am

@ GaPatriot:

Tell me again how road systems operate at a profit?

Rival

March 21st, 2011
8:25 am

Also, this list of proposed projects is so small. The sales tax will raise billions of dollars over 10 years. Each county/city is putting dozens of projects on their lists for GDOT to whittle down. Any chance of compiling a bigger list? I’m not sure these do the concept justice.

Matt

March 21st, 2011
8:27 am

Complete the beltline early which will link to marta and the completed streetcar. Linking gwinnett and cobb to marta will make all of this much better. A loop that goes around the entire city of atlanta. Rail that travels from gwinnett and cobb into atlanta and is accessible to the beltline project and the street car. You will be hard pressed to find a place you could not travel on publix trans. (I already do every single work day)

Rival

March 21st, 2011
8:48 am

I think the Beltline already has funding built in via the Beltline TAD. Not sure if Atlanta is including it in their T-SPLOST list. I’d like to see the Beltline finished, too; I’m just not sure it’s a viable transit alternative on par with expanded MARTA or new commuter rail.

The Beltline is great as a park feature and to encourage density closer to the city’s core. But are you really going to get on the Beltline trolly/light rail and go from Grant Park to Atlantic Station or even City Hall East? The fact that it goes around the city makes it inefficient for lots of trips. But I think it’s great as a spot for new housing & commercial that can bring back many of the old neighborhoods that used to be where everyone lived.

Comedy Central

March 21st, 2011
8:49 am

Funny, funny stuff here.

Fulton and Dekalb pay a one-cent sales tax to fund MARTA.

Here’s the funny part, these 2 counties are now going to be asked to pay another one cent tax to fund transit projects in Gwinnett and Cobb!

Lol.

Rival

March 21st, 2011
8:59 am

Sometimes you just gotta laugh to keep from crying…

ATL Voter

March 21st, 2011
9:17 am

Vote no on this suburban roads tax.

Without dedicated funding to operate the Cobb/Gwinnett “transit” systems this is all pie-in-the-sky hooey; and you know that Cobb/Gwinnett voters won’t tax themselves to operate their systm, but maybe if they can get some of the MARTA tax….

Let’s drown this stupid proposal in the bathtub and make the legislature start over again. Its amazing how many pundits, politicians and transporation planners don’t even know that GRTA already has the legal authority to operate a transit system within the Atlanta ozone non-attainment area.

Is it because they are stupid or lazy?

TnGelding

March 21st, 2011
9:41 am

It will fail in the present anti-tax mood .As it should. Although the traffic is atrocious, most of us aren’t sitting in it. The gas tax needs to be increased.

I’d like to see MARTA endorsed and expanded into all metro counties, and the fare returned to a quarter or made free. And put security on every bus and every car of every train, putting the unemployed to work. The operation cost would be peanuts compared to what it cost to build roads.

southern hope

March 21st, 2011
9:46 am

its truly too bad that people fear MARTA. I take MARTA to work 5 days a week & it’s a great experience …..easy, affordable (because my office pays for it :) and actually kind of an adventure….People who have a hard time taking Marta probably have a tough time getting there….but if we built more stations/stops, all of you could have the great experience that some of us have.

If you *don’t* want to take Marta (which is cool), then you – as a resident – should still vote for the penny…because that will get more people onto Marta and that will mean faster driving for you. :)

N

March 21st, 2011
9:47 am

Why is there nothing for Atlanta on the list. The largest city in the area and it doesn’t make the list.

Aquagirl

March 21st, 2011
9:51 am

TnGelding, that will work—if you can convince exurb voters that subsidized mass transit isn’t a communist plot to enslave America. Subsidized roads and gas are the only option for patriots.

Rival

March 21st, 2011
9:52 am

@ N

This article is a very small sample of the full list. Actually, there really is no list until the final one sent to GDOT. But I wish the AJC could have shown more projects here as this list doesn’t even scratch the surface. This is a very complicated and long process and a short blog post like this doesn’t do it justice.

Mayor Reed is still probably adding/editing his list. Then there are regional roundtable meetings every month with county/city leaders to discuss what will ultimately go on the lists that are sent to GDOT. I’m not sure when the Atlanta Regional Commission’s next roundtable is, but the March 30th deadline is fast approaching.

Matt

March 21st, 2011
9:58 am

@rival
I know the beltline has its own funding. I am saying that this could help link up transit. the street car will link up to the beltline because Atlanta city has decided to spend a little more to get cars that will run ON the beltline. Also new transit proposals have the beltline crossing from the west side to piedmont park on 14th street. the goal should be transit thats gets you to multiple places in the city. A line running from cobb and gwinnett would help as well.
Moscow has a superhighway with 12 lanes that circles the city and they keep adding more. somehow it hasnt helped the traffic. I wonder why?
Build transit.

Erik

March 21st, 2011
10:09 am

My wish list is simple – more and more light/commuter rail all over the metro area and beyond.

Some denser subway-type rail for the city of Atlanta would be nice too but one thing at a time.

KA

March 21st, 2011
10:10 am

I live OTP in Gwinnett and would love to see passenger rail service implemented along the freight railroad lines. Earlier MARTA plans and present light rail options would not help my commute, as I would still be driving 10 to 15 miles to a station.

Roekest

March 21st, 2011
10:22 am

If the big ideas are to expand rail into the suburbs, then I would hope police and security gets beefed up as well. I don’t mind rail being expanded to my neighborhood, but I don’t want to see any of Atlanta’s thugs walking down my street. Build a wall around the SWATs and we got a deal!

DannyX

March 21st, 2011
10:23 am

Remember folks, not one penny collected from the new sales tax would go to MARTA. It would not be allowed.

The tax could be used to fund rail in Gwinnett and Cobb. The way the tax is set up now mainly for the benefit of Cobb and Gwinnett.

A simple solution? Make DeKalb and Fulton their own region. If Fulton and Dekalb vote to opt out and not take on another penny sales tax they can do so. If the two counties vote for another penny to go along with the current MARTA tax they can use the money to build their own projects.

How about that Cobb and Gwinnett? Sounds fair to me.

Margaret Gray

March 21st, 2011
10:28 am

MY TRANSPORTATION WISH LIST:

* Outlaw cell phone use while driving.

* Outlaw minivan usage during rush hour.

* Actually, outlaw minivan usage entirely.

* Require mandatory telecommuting for Affirm@tiveAction employees to cut down on the rush-hour accidents they directly cause. (see also: Outlaw cell phone use while driving)

* Authorize local law enforcement officials to use “shoot to kill” measures on goofballs who slow down (or stop) and impede traffic for the sole purpose of selfishly turning their heads to gawk at traffic accidents, car fires, people changing tires, flashing lights, etc.

* Use government money for public service announcements on topics such “How to Use a Turn Signal: It’s the Law.” during televisions programs such as “MEET THE BROWNS,” “HOUSE OF PAYNE,” and “AMERICAN IDOL.”

* Make it illegal to back into parking spaces, especially 2 or 3 at a time, when there is no obvious need to do so.

* Make it a felony to not pay attention to traffic signals when the driver is the very first person in any given lane at a traffic light.

ERC

March 21st, 2011
10:36 am

I do not think voters will approve this new tax in these tough economic times. Usually I support new taxes for meaningful improvements, but I do not plan to vote for this one for 2 reasons.
1. I already pay 1 % MARTA tax as a resident of DeKalb county. DeKalb and Fulton residents should get credit for having already paid our share toward public transportation for decades!
2. I regularly pay a toll (aka tax) on GA 400. Since our state leaders decided to extend that tax beyond it’s original expiration date, they have shown they cannot be trusted. This new tax will not end after 10 years.

DannyX

March 21st, 2011
10:38 am

Its funny how it becomes a “regional” issue when it benefits Cobb and Gwinnett.

Like the Braves shuttle service. Even though a good portion of the shuttle users live in the suburbs the folks in Cobb and Gwinnett see it as a “local” issue. Yes they want it brought back but they want Dekalb and Fulton to pay for it.

In fact the new regional sales tax would not be able to contribute money to a Braves shuttle either. It would be banned from doing so because MARTA runs the shuttle.

Rival

March 21st, 2011
10:39 am

@ Roekest

I thought the “they’re gonna ride the train and steal your TV!” argument was dead. Guess not.

I’m fairly certain suburban crime exists currently without a rail linking to Atlanta. Crime happens everywhere. Don’t let paranoia cloud your judgment on sound transportation planning.

g

March 21st, 2011
10:40 am

Eleminate the stupid trolley that plans to gro from nowhere to nowhere….use the money towards the beltline.

Then, rail parralel or close to it for every major artery…75,85,400,316,etc to the beltline. Connect the dots….IE, Athens to ATL, Macon to ATL, etc. Set the bar for the rest of the country.

Then High speed around the country.

Final wish…..bike trail similar to Silver Comit in enough locations to encourage short trips by bike/pedestrian. I would love a bike trail from Gwinnett to Athens…..316 with train in middle and bike trails on one side safe distance from road…..

Al Feretta

March 21st, 2011
10:45 am

Let’s start enforcing cell phone and “no blocking the left lane” laws. Fines from that could probably fund an entire rebuild of Atlanta’s roads. Also, the entrances/exits from I-20 to the Connector are asinine. Whoever thought it was a good idea to have 3 major interstates intersecting that close to downtown need to be shot.

We NEED light rail with express service during business hours that extends to suburban areas and some sort of bypass for all the slow Canucks and Michiganders on their way to Florida.

A Big Dig-type project would be wonderful for Atlanta, but we all know how Boston’s went.

FedUp

March 21st, 2011
11:05 am

No support for light rail for Cobb. This is doomed for failure.

Phooey!

March 21st, 2011
11:13 am

Roads (and cars and tires) are the only transportation mode that should EVER be publicly subsidized by user taxes paid at the pump.

The public should NEVER subsidize rail, otherwise we’ll be a nation of pinko, commie, Euro bed-wetters … or San Franciscans!!

There’s no economic benefit (to American industrial giants) by providing people with transportation alternatives! God bless Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for helping to liberate American cities from the once vast network of trolleys and streetcars that probably just plagued progress for half of the 20th century!

Rival

March 21st, 2011
11:16 am

@ Al Feretta

“…and some sort of bypass for all the slow Canucks and Michiganders on their way to Florida.”

You would think they would plan ahead and NOT travel straight through the city during rush hour. I hope they enjoy the 2-hour vacation ride from downtown through McDonough…

Tamika

March 21st, 2011
11:17 am

Really? Bike paths in Alpharetta from a regional transit tax?
No way!!
Either we see serious transit improvement from the proponents of the transit tax or it’s a dead duck. the list is at least (mostly) a good start.

Road Scholar

March 21st, 2011
11:26 am

I find it amazing that the preliminary list of improvements in Fulton County only includes projects in the SW side of town. It took Alpharetta and Sandy Springs to add some important projects in the north Fulton.

The interchange at SR 400 and Northridge Road has been modified 3 times and the extension of the tolls prel list does it a 4th time. The last time it was done under a GRTA bond program. Rebuild it entirely and stop this piecemeal approach. Fix it!

SR 4oo at Abernathy down to I 285 needs to be rebuilt with additional seperate lanes between Abernathy and I 285 to store SB traffic waiting to get onto I 285 and distribute the merging traffic coming from I 285 and south SR 400. While you are at it rebuild the SR400 interchange with I 285 and remove the dangerous two left hand entrance ramps from I 285, add additional lanes along I 285 to handle the weaving and delivery of traffic to the local interchanges.Adding an additional turn lane to Roswell Road now is a short termd improvement that will be removed when they do something to I 285.

Those against increased funding: How will we address todays congestion…and the 2-3 million people coming in the next 20 years? Raising the gas tax is fine and I reccomend it…but this money goes to SPECIFIC LOCAL projects. The gas tax is used state wide , if you haven’t noticed!

As for trains in the median of the Interstates (by taking away lanes) is not the best solution. What if the rail lines connect existing activity centers- locations that already have proven themselves as retail, commercial, and housing centers- with rail to augment the Interstates? Why drive to an Interstate to get on a train when you could get on one in your community w/o driving your car?

SmyrnaJerome

March 21st, 2011
11:26 am

We need Natural Gas stations. I guarantee that I will buy a NatGas powered car if Cobb county is able to build just a couple of stations. NatGas is much cheaper than gasoline, and is cleaner, and is AMERICAN. The Honda NGV Civic just won “Greenest Car” for like the 3rd year in a row, so suck on that tail pipe Prius owners

Matt

March 21st, 2011
11:32 am

Do not eliminate the so called “trolley” the current plan is to have this “trolley” be able to link into the beltline with the same transit cars. in other words the ability to travel throughout the city of atlanta on the beltline and into the streetscape on one transit unit. smart idea.

CW

March 21st, 2011
11:37 am

My wish list is to add subway lines that run NE-SW and NW-SE, and add bus lanes so buses could keep to a schedule without traffic congestion interfering. My fantasy list is to add rapid rail lines Atlanta-Chattanooga, Atlanta-Charlotte, Atlanta-Macon and maybe Atlanta-Birmingham. Given population growth in the South, this would open up options for business and residential. Not in my lifetime.

anonymous coward

March 21st, 2011
12:00 pm

@Phooey! 11:13 — Not sure what your problem is, but I don’t need a car here in San Francisco, and when I do I can get a Zip Car or City Car Share. San Francisco and California are not without problems, but I’m really really really glad that Delta was ready when I was when I was ready to leave the brain dead south.

Bob from Accounttemps

March 21st, 2011
12:10 pm

I just wish the trains would actually run to (or even near) a schedule. I have traveled the world and never experienced a train system that is so unreliable as to schedule. After all, we only have 2 lines!

Phooey!

March 21st, 2011
12:11 pm

@ anonymous coward: My problem with San Francisco is that Detroit and Goodyear didn’t move quickly-enough to liberate that bucolic city from the strangle-hold of efficient trackless trolleys, streetcars or other forms of mass transit.

I mean, how can you ever hope to have a public represented by a bunch of bloated, lard-a$$, self-serving, hypocritical wingnuts like Georiga, unless y’all get those overhead wires ripped down and build more parking decks?

$3.75 fpor a galln of gas! To heck with that! You just don’t know what mediocre political leadership is that you’re missing!

Mark

March 21st, 2011
12:33 pm

My wish list is for common sense.

1. If we want to get commuters out of cars and into mass transit, why have a $.50 toll on Georgia 400. That 50 cents is equivalent to 29 cents today and will only get lower over time. It should have been raised to a few bucks. And the toll booth should be at North Springs, where Marta ends, or an additional booth be located there.

2. Atlanta has $10 billion in public works infrastructure needs, including billions for its neglected roads. So what does paying another one percent sales tax mean to my neighborhood, where Atlanta Gas light has left 85 patches in 2,600 feet of collector street. Answer: nothing, so why would I vote for it?

3.

NoWay

March 21st, 2011
12:41 pm

I know one thing for sure, I will vote NO

Scotty

March 21st, 2011
12:42 pm

This is probably already in the Big List of requested changes… Synchronizing traffic lights is relatively easy and cheap.

Rival

March 21st, 2011
1:09 pm

The proposed TSPLOST is not a perfect system. But if you vote “No”, here’s a list of things I don’t want to hear people complaining about:

- My local government raised property/sales taxes and fees! Why?

- The state/local government cut that program I like! Why?

- I’m still stuck in traffic! Why?

- There is not a convenient way to get to XYZ! Why?

- Look at all these bombed-out, empty strip centers! Why doesn’t someone redevelop this mess?

- Why don’t the state/local government get proactive and plan for the future now?!

If you vote “No” on the TSPLOST, we will have our answer to these and many more issues/questions. Plus, we’ll lose out on the sales tax revenue from visitors who routinely supply over 40% of SPLOST funds.

The state & local governments are trying to plan for a way to clear the backlog of transportation projects in the next 10 years (which includes projects badly needed over the past 20 years). It’s not perfect, but if we let this opportunity slide then you can wave goodbye to potential investment in the Atlanta region. Charlotte and other cities will gladly plan while we fail to do so.

Please think before you vote.

Anson

March 21st, 2011
1:21 pm

I’ve lived in NY, SF and now in Cobb County. Give me the transit in either of the other two cities. I never owned a car until I was forced to move here by a job change. Commuter rail and local rail transit in these areas made car ownership unnecessary. BART was opposed by the same stupid, racist morons who opposed a proper MARTA for Atlanta. Fortunately, sanity prevailed on the west coast. San Francisco’s trolleys and electric buses complemented the intercity service without anyone’s TV being stolen.

The cost of light rail in the north suburbs is FAR less than the cost of building and maintaining more highways for those who DEMAND the “god-give right’ to pollute my air with their commute. LRVs can be accommodated on lightly used existing rail lines that run like a spider web between the north counties and Atlanta. Revive the once-proud passenger service from these areas Parking already exists at many of the old stations; the rails are already in place.

Then update the feeder bus services in these areas.

The other choice is to become Los Angeles East, choking on our own smog.

Light

March 21st, 2011
1:24 pm

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com/

Native Atlantan2

March 21st, 2011
1:33 pm

@Margaret Gray — racist much?

Aquagirl

March 21st, 2011
1:36 pm

Can we appoint Margaret as head of the DOT?

Matt

March 21st, 2011
1:43 pm

If you vote no we will just be another alabama.

Please lets be a more enticing state for business.

TnGelding

March 21st, 2011
3:17 pm

Alabama the Beautiful! Real estate in the Montgomery area seems to be holding up pretty well. And then there’s the Redneck Riviera. We shouldn’t diss our good neighbor.

ben

March 21st, 2011
3:59 pm

there are many who wish they lived in the midst of nowhere. our society has built up living around atrophied land as the great goal of the masses. alabama and the other midst of nowhere places are only nice for a few. cities breed opportunity for those who are smart and driven and determined. yes there is crime and degradation, but it’s in nowhere too. this transit thing will happen sooner or later. my guess is sooner.