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Think about this. For every penny in new tax that would be saved by a “no” vote, Atlantans will waste multiples of that solitary cent in a thousand hidden ways — in congestion-squandered gasoline, penalty fees for missed medical appointments, or insert your own traffic horror stories here.
Do not be seduced by the mirage of a false economy of “no.” Gridlock’s tax is as real as anything ever dreamed up by government, and its scattershot tally will only increase if we do nothing.
And this has never been a do-nothing region. Not the city that collectively shoveled through the ashes and ruin of the Civil War and began a generations-long climb toward a spot on the world’s A-list. Atlanta’s reaped a plenteous harvest from our labors, and we must keep going.
Voting “no” would hand the best possible news to competing cities, which are the biggest TIA opponents. They already now see Hotlanta as Not-lanta. They shrewdly see opportunity in our 9.3 percent regional unemployment rate and the persistent, world-class traffic snarls that hobble our economic competitiveness.
A decisive “yes” vote on Tuesday will tell our challengers, and the entire world really, that Atlanta will not count itself out, and that others discount us at their great peril.
Too many men and women have dreamed too big and worked too hard to elevate Atlanta to being a world-class city for us to now choose the fork in the road that leads nowhere. We owe it to them and our children to vote “yes” Tuesday.
Also on the pages of today’s AJC was an endorsement from none other than Ted Turner:
To move forward, Atlanta needs to innovate and address our transportation crisis. This referendum will do just that. It offers a balanced mix of public transportation and roads. This investment will put some Atlantans to work, while helping others get to work.
The 1996 Olympics announced to the world that Atlanta was ready for prime time, and the referendum’s economic impact here over time would be far greater than the Olympics. The referendum isn’t just about the economy; it is also about our lives. In the past, Atlanta was a very appealing home for business leaders looking to expand or move because their employees could get to work easily, had an affordable cost of living, and would enjoy a great lifestyle.
But as Atlanta has grown, traffic congestion and too few transportation options have made Atlanta less appealing. As a result, too many businesses choose to locate in cities where getting around is not such a challenge. Funding a fair mix of road, transit, and other transportation projects will address this challenge, and help us build the city we want for us and for our children.
It is easy to shoot down big ideas. But small ideas aren’t the Atlanta way. They didn’t make us the capital of the South and they won’t lead us into a healthy and prosperous future.
Atlanta has to start somewhere and it doesn’t have time to waste. I’ll be voting “yes” Tuesday. If Atlanta isn’t moving forward, we are being left behind.
Mayor Kasim Reed also wrote a piece in favor of the Transportation Referendum, concluding:
In Atlanta, we have often faced tough challenges, but we always rise to the occasion and make the right decision. We have a strong tradition of coming together to do the things that are hard. It is time for us to dream again, instead of treading water while our problems get worse. I am confident that citizens across the region will cast their ballots for a brighter and better future.