Metropolitan Atlanta to vote on $7.2 billion transportation funding tax –debate on funding heats up -TSPLOST

July 20, 2012

Government/Politics

Metropolitan Atlanta to vote on $7.2 billion transportation funding tax –debate on funding heats up -TSPLOST

Opponents of the July 31 Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) referendum are informing voters to really examine if these are good transit projects for Fulton and Dekalb counties. Does the Atlanta area T-SPLOST contain enough suburban and urban rapid rail public transportation expansion for the price tag or is the tax mainly for suburban road expansion?

Atlanta Journal Constitution Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed on Tuesday urged voters to shake off doubters and discouraging polls recently offered up by news outlets, and vowed his own “all-out” support of a 1 percent regionwide sales tax to pay for transportation projects.

Much of Tuesday’s effort was aimed at African-American Democrats who could offset opposition in metro Atlanta’s predominantly Republican suburbs.

The tax could raise $7.2 billion over a decade for a range of projects from rail lines and interchanges to sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

A few elected officials who once backed the effort have now come out against it.

On Tuesday, state Sen. Vincent Fort and John Evans, president of the NAACP’s DeKalb County branch, said the T-SPLOST should be voted down. Guarantees by state and local agencies to include small minority contractors are flimsy, they said.

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/atlanta-business-league-backs-1479457.html

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Video: Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed “Untie the Knot”

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Video: Ambassador Andrew Young and former Atlanta mayor on the transportation referendum

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Dilemma X news was there to cover the event

Video: Meeting held on Thursday, July 19, 2012 on the future of funding transportation in metropolitan Atlanta- Derrick Boazman  

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Video: Metropolitan Atlanta- GA State Sen. Vincent Fort -transportation vote meeting T-SPLOST

Part 1 of 2

Part 2 of 2

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Video: Metropolitan Atlanta- NAACP/Atlanta -transportation vote meeting T-SPLOST

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Video: Maynard H. Jackson- speaks about being mayor

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T-SPLOST Final Investment List

Transit projects include the following:

Click image to enlarge

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MARTA Heavy Rail North Red Line extension from North Springs Station to Holcomb Bridge Road (SR 140) in Roswell (Fulton County)

MARTA Clifton Corridor Light Rail 
Recommended Alternative

•8.8 miles of light rail double track (includes tunnels and elevated sections)
•10 light rail station platforms
◦Lindbergh Center (transfer to Red or Gold Lines)
◦Cheshire Bridge
◦Sage Hill
◦CDC/Emory Point
◦Emory-Rollins
◦Emory-Clairmont
◦North Decatur
◦Suburban Plaza
◦DeKalb Medical Center
◦Avondale Station (transfer to Blue Line)
•3 additional optional stations for consideration
◦Piedmont (transfer to BeltLine)
◦DeKalb Industrial
◦North Arcadia (old DeVry campus)
•2 Maintenance and/or storage facilities

MARTA East Transit Corridor -Bus Rapid Transit/No Heavy Rail
Recommended Alternative

This project supports uses the TIA funds to start a phased implementation of investments in the I-20 East Corridor by constructing future stations of a fixed guideway system as identified through the long-term vision for the corridor of providing fixed guideway service between the Mall at Stonecrest and Central Atlanta. Contingent upon additional funding, this project may also provide a fixed guideway rail service along a route generally parallel to I-20 and connecting in with the existing MARTA system either in downtown Atlanta or at the Indian Creek station.

Click image to enlarge:

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T-SPLOST Final Investment List

Road projects include the following:

Click images to enlarge

Not shown below are aviation, bike and pedestrian projects that are part of T-SPLOST

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Commuter Rail (for the greater metropolitan area)

Metropolitan rail: They operate on mainline railroad tracks, often mixed with freight trains, and must meet the operating and safety standards of mainline railroads. Most use diesel locomotive-hauled trains; some use electric locomotives or electric multiple-unit operation. Service is usually heavily oriented towards carrying workers to the city center early on weekday mornings, and home in the afternoon late on weekday afternoons. 

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Video: Metro Washington DC

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Some cities with commuter rail:
Albuquerque
Austin
Boston
Chicago (Metra and South Shore Line)
Dallas-Fort Worth (Trinity Rail Express)
Los Angeles (Metrolink)
Miami (Tri-Rail)
Minneapolis (Northstar)
Nashville (Music City Star)
New York City (Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Commuter Railroad, New Jersey Transit)
Philadelphia (SEPTA regional rail)
San Diego (Coaster)
San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland (Caltrain, Altamont Commuter Express)
Seattle (Sounder)
Washington and Baltimore (Maryland Rail Commuter MARC,  Virginia Railway Express VRE)

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Heavy Rail (Like the existing MARTA core metro counties Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb, Clayton, Gwinnett)

Metro, short for metropolitan railway refers to an urban, electric rail transport system with high capacity and a high frequency of service. Metros are totally separated from other traffic. They operate in tunnels, on elevated structures, or at surface level but with physical separation from other traffic. Powered by a 3rd rail on the ground with some exceptions, such as Cleveland’s Red Line.

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Video: Atlanta MARTA rail

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US cities with heavy rail
Atlanta (MARTA)
Baltimore
Chicago (CTA)
Cleveland (Red Line)
Los Angeles (Metro)
Miami (Metrorail)
New York
Philadelphia (SEPTA)
San Francisco/Oakland
Washington (Metro Rail)

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Light Rail and Modern Streetcar (suburban counties and within city limits)

Light rail or light rail transit (LRT) is a form of urban rail public transportation that generally has a lower capacity and lower speed than heavy rail and metro systems (subways, EL’s), but higher capacity and higher speed than traditional street-running street car or tram. Powered from above by electrical wires.

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Video: Charlotte CATS Lynx Blue Line

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Some cities with modern Light Rail:
Baltimore
Buffalo
Boston
San Francisco
Charlotte
Cleveland
Dallas (largest light rail system in the U.S.)
Denver
Houston
Los Angeles
Minneapolis
Norfolk
Philadelphia
Phoenix
Pittsburgh
Portland
St. Louis
Sacramento
Salt Lake City
San Diego
San Jose
Seattle

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City of Atlanta’s changing demographics

In 1860 African Americans in the city numbered less than 2,000

In 1900 there were more than 35,000 black Atlantans, approximately 40 percent of the total population of the city.

In 1925 Ivan Allen Sr. and W.R.C. Smith of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce launched a national advertising campaign entitled “Forward Atlanta,” which was designed to lure new businesses to the city and to encourage national corporations to establish their regional headquarters there.

Race and race relations played a part in the distribution of municipal services, as the city worked to build the infrastructure necessary to support rapid urban growth. For much of the early twentieth century, water and sewer lines in Atlanta lagged behind population growth, many roads remained unpaved, public schools were overcrowded and underfunded, and health care and social services were inadequate to the task at hand. Each of these problems was even more acute in the city’s black neighborhoods and communities. (As late as 1941-1942, for example, the city spent less than 16 percent of its annual school funds on African American students.) To help remedy some of the problems facing Atlanta, city voters (including registered black voters) passed a $3 million bond referendum in 1910, the largest to date, and another bond referendum in 1921, which not only helped address some of the educational needs facing white students but also provided funds for the construction of Atlanta’s first black public high school—Booker T. Washington—which opened on the west side of Atlanta in 1924.

As the city’s population swelled, racial and ethnic tensions grew as well and the city saw riots.

The automobile’s growing use in downtown Atlanta contributed to the creation of a series of viaducts to raise the city’s streets above the railroads and railroad lines and grade-level crossings. The automobile also helped disperse the city’s residential population farther into the suburbs, sparking a suburban real-estate boom and the creation of a ring of middle-class, bungalow-style houses and communities two to five miles from downtown.

Rapid population growth accompanied post world War II economic activity, and Atlanta expanded its borders to accommodate this growth. In 1952 the city annexed an additional 82 square miles, adding 100,000 new residents. Highways and freeways were also built and expanded to meet the city’s growing need. Well before federal money became available in the late 1950s under the interstate highway program, Atlanta was already working on its freeways—an approach that allowed the city to link up later with three major interstate highways that connected Atlanta to the region and fed suburban metropolitan growth. Highway construction (combined with urban renewal activities) also lowered the supply of black housing within the city—displacing almost 67,000 people in the period from 1956 to 1966 and adding to an already severe housing shortage.

By 1959 African Americans made up 36 percent of the city’s population but occupied only 16 percent of the available residential land.

During the 1960s the white population of the city declined by 60,132, while the black population increased by 68,587.

The 1970 census revealed that Atlanta had a majority black population for the first time in the city’s history.

Changes in the racial makeup of the city were accompanied by equally important changes in the political structure of Atlanta.

In 1969 Maynard Jackson was elected the city’s first African American vice mayor (along with Sam Massell, the city’s first white Jewish mayor), and in 1972 Andrew Young became the first black congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction. Black representation in the Georgia legislature also increased during these years, and a sea change in local politics occurred in 1973, when Maynard Jackson became Atlanta’s first African American mayor and blacks gained equal representation on the city council and a slight majority on the school board.

African American mayors would follow Maynard Jackson. Andrew Young (1982); Maynard Jackson again (1990); Bill Campbell (1994); Shirley Franklin (2002), the first woman in the city’s history to hold that office; and Kasim Reed (2010).

Source: The New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Atlanta’s brief transportation history

MARTA –Bus and Heavy Rail

In 1960 Atlanta Chamber of Commerce president Ivan Allen Jr. proposed a six-point program for the city’s growth and development. The proposal’s centerpiece was a rail transit system that would solve Atlanta’s impending transportation crisis and distinguish the city from its regional peers. When he was elected mayor the following year, Allen made rail transit an administrative priority and began the difficult task of obtaining legislative approval, assembling a board of directors, and soliciting architectural and engineering plans.

When the referendum to create MARTA finally appeared on ballots in the city of Atlanta and in Fulton and DeKalb counties in the fall of 1968, MARTA’s proponents touted the system as a transportation cure-all that would ease the metropolitan area’s congestion and establish Atlanta as a “national city.” Despite enjoying wide support in the city’s business community, the measure failed in all three jurisdictions.

MARTA encountered stiffest opposition from Atlanta’s black community; black voters objected to the proposed system’s marked service inequality (routes would provide greater service to white neighborhoods than to black ones), limited African American representation on the MARTA board, and the board’s refusal to honor requests for minority employment guarantees.

Over the next three years of negotiation, the board took steps to become more representative of citywide interests, welcoming its critics to the negotiating table, restructuring routes to better serve black communities, implementing a minority employment plan, shoring up federal financial support, and proposing the system’s extension into the suburban Atlanta counties of Clayton and Gwinnett.

In 1971 MARTA was put to the voters again, appearing on ballots in Clayton, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett counties as well as the city of Atlanta. As a result of the board’s concessions, voters in Atlanta, Fulton, and DeKalb approved the measure.

This time MARTA encountered opposition from conservative suburban residents in Clayton and Gwinnett counties, where metropolitan expansion and white flight from Atlanta had recently contributed to dramatic population growth. The system’s suburban critics, many of whom left Atlanta following the integration of the city’s public spaces, predicted that MARTA would expedite the racial integration of predominantly white suburbs, would lower home values, and would make suburban communities vulnerable to federal busing programs and the dispersal of public housing. As a consequence, voters in the two counties defeated the measure by a four-to-one margin. In so doing, the system’s suburban opponents limited MARTA’s effectiveness as a solution to the area’s transportation woes and helped to redefine the lines separating the city from its suburbs. Although they retained representation on the MARTA board, suburban voters have continued to resist efforts to expand the system.

MARTA purchased assets of the old Atlanta Transit System, a privately owned company that had operated bus routes in the city. With generous federal assistance and a 1 percent special sales tax collected in Fulton and DeKalb counties and the city of Atlanta, rail construction began in 1975. Service on the east line began in June 1979, and the system has grown steadily since then. Stations at North Springs and Sandy Springs opened in December 2000 to serve Atlanta’s growing north side.

Source: The New Georgia Encyclopedia

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Existing transit systems in metropolitan Atlanta

MARTA, the nation’s 9th-largest transit service, provides rail, express bus and local bus service providing nearly 470,000 trips each week day to their destinations each weekday in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

Cobb Community Transit  (CCT) is metropolitan Atlanta’s 2nd-oldest transit service. CCT provides local bus service within Cobb County and express bus service connecting Cobb County with Midtown and Downtown Atlanta.

Gwinnett County Transit was formed in 2000 and provides local bus service in Gwinnett County and express bus service connecting Gwinnett County with Atlanta’s MARTA Lindbergh Station, Midtown and Downtown Atlanta.

Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Xpress is metropolitan Atlanta’s regional commuter coach service provides weekday morning and afternoon service on 34 routes serving the Downtown, Midtown and Buckhead areas of Atlanta and the Perimeter Center areas. (Xpress partners Cobb Community Transit and Gwinnett County Transit provide similar service on six additional routes.) Xpress routes are aligned with and provide free transfers to and from the MARTA rail and bus services, allowing riders to complete trips throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area.

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Atlanta’s proposed commuter rail lines

Many people wonder if this is part of the T-SPLOST

Source: GDOT- GEORGIA PASSENGER RAIL PROGRAM April 10, 2006

Atlanta is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the U.S. without a commuter rail system other than Detroit and Houston.  In the South the cities of Washington, Nashville and Miami have commuter rail systems.

GDOT conducted studies of commuter rail between 1993 and 1995.

March 1, 2007

The Georgia State Senate passed Senate Resolution 263 that urged the U.S. Congress to provide funding for a commuter rail system from Atlanta to Athens.

Senate Resolution 263

ADOPTED – GEORGIA STATE SENATE

A RESOLUTION

Urging the Congress of the United States to provide funding for the engineering, construction, and land acquisition and other necessary costs for commuter rail connecting Athens to Atlanta; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, the Georgia Passenger Rail Program was initiated in 1995; and

WHEREAS, the Athens to Atlanta Commuter Rail was selected as the locally preferred alternative, out of seven alternatives, by the state in December 2001; and

WHEREAS, the establishment of railway passenger service to the general public and connecting points within and throughout this state and to nearby states will develop and promote, for the public good and general welfare of this state, trade, commerce, tourism, industry, and employment opportunities while alleviating highway traffic congestion and related air pollution; and

WHEREAS, the citizens of Georgia are now faced with some of the longest commute times in the United States; and

WHEREAS, the environmental assessment for the Athens to Atlanta Commuter Rail corridor was approved with a finding of “no significant impact” in February 2004; and

WHEREAS, an audit of the Georgia Rail Passenger Program has shown $2,342,785.00 has been spent by the federal and state governments through 2006 to prepare the Athens to Atlanta Rail Corridor; and

WHEREAS, the building of the Athens to Atlanta commuter rail line will require the least purchase of right of way of any capacity increasing option available; and

WHEREAS, the construction of the line would increase economic development along and around the corridor; and

WHEREAS, the Athens to Atlanta Commuter Rail Line is an important segment of an overall healthy commuter and passenger rail system to move citizens throughout Georgia.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF GEORGIA that the members of Congress are urged to help ensure that funding for the Athens to Atlanta Commuter Rail Line is appropriated in the 110th Congress.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to each member of the Georgia congressional delegation.

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Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal- Downtown Atlanta

The Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal will be the region’s major passenger terminal with facilities envisioned for new commuter rail and intercity passenger rail services, ,as well as intercity, regional express , and local buses (Greyhound, Southeastern Stages, GRTA Xpress, Cobb Community Transit, Gwinnett County Transit, and MARTA). The facility will also be designed to accommodate future transportation, including high speed rail, light rail, and streetcar services.

The new terminal’s planned location in Downtown Atlanta has evolved over several decades and multiple planning efforts. The project will reside within much of the “gulch,” an area between Forsyth Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive. This location lies immediately west of the MARTA Five Points Station, the hub of the Atlanta region’s rapid rail system.

Source: Central Atlanta Progress

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The Georgia Department of Transportation announced its intention July 14, 2010 to hire a “master developer” to put together a plan for the long-awaited Multimodal Passenger Terminal to serve as a hub for bus and rail service radiating from the city.

Congress had  threatened to take back $87 million earmarked a dozen years ago for a commuter rail line linking Atlanta with its southern suburbs unless the state starts using the money. That project has been tied up by indecision over how to pay the annual operating costs.

Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

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October 31, 2011

City of Atlanta

State Transportation Board member Dana Lemon and Georgia DOT Commissioner Keith Golden are joined by U.S. Respresentative John Lewis, Mayor Kasim Reed and other state and local officials at the MMPT commemoration ceremony.

Mayor Kasim Reed joined Congressman John Lewis, the State Transportation Board (STB), other officials and private-sector partners today for the signing of an agreement for the initial development of a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) and commercial center in downtown Atlanta. 

Georgia DOT’s $12.2 million, two-year contract with the consortium will provide a conceptual design of the MMPT and potential funding options. Separate coinciding work over the next two years will make the necessary environmental impact assessment of the project.

The MMPT will be developed for the Georgia Department of Transportation by Forest City/Cousins/Integral, a consortium of private firms and will be located in the long underutilized “Gulch” area near Philips Arena, the Georgia Dome and World Congress Center.

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Click image to enlarge:

Georgia Department of Transportation

July 11, 2012

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Interstate Highways

Six interstate highways—I-20, I-75, I-85, I-285, I-575, and I-675—help metropolitan Atlanta residents get where they need to go. Atlanta also has GA 400 Freeway and Stone Mountain Freeway.

Source: The New Georgia Encyclopedia

I-285 (The Perimeter) is a 63.98 miles full beltway around Atlanta. In October 1969 Governor Lester Maddux opened the freeway. Construction began in early 1957 where the first segments were in the northeast at the I-85 interchange to Peachtree-Dunwoody Road on the northside of Atlanta.

In the 1980s Georgia Department of Transportation’s  “Freeing the Freeways” program began in metropolitan Atlanta that would widen the most congested area of the existing freeway system.

Photo of widening of I-75/I-85 (The Connector) in downtown/midtown Atlanta in the mid 1970s

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