The Atlanta Regional Commission has done a yeoman’s job of compiling (just about) every single frequently asked question regarding the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum and providing detailed, thoughtful answers. Here’s just one example, dealing with the frequently raised issue of the Georgia 400 toll and how the Transportation Referendum is different:
There has been recent controversy over several transportation projects including the Georgia 400 toll extension. How can the public be assured that the administration of the Transportation Referendum will not be a repeat?
The Transportation Investment Act was specifically designed with the concerns about the 400 toll extension in mind. The law will not allow the tax to be extended beyond the 10 years without a vote of the people. The referendum projects, similar to Special Local Option Sales Taxes (SPLOST), are a contract with the region’s citizens.
The Transportation Act outlines that the following steps must take place before the tax can be renewed as stated in Section 48-8-245 (c)(3) of the Transportation Investment Act:
1) The General Assembly has to pass a Special Regional Transportation Funding Election Act. A Special Regional Transportation Funding Election Act is an act that requires the majority of the signatures of the legislative delegation for a majority of the counties within the region in order for the bill to be placed on the local calendar of each chamber. The Act will be treated procedurally by the General Assembly as a local Act and all counties within the region shall receive legal notice to the requirements of a local act.
2) A majority of counties in the region have to pass a resolution regarding their support for putting the question to the voters a second time
3) The Roundtable process begins again establishing criteria, accepting projects for consideration, developing a draft and a final investment list. From start to finish this process is required by law to last a minimum of 13 months
4) The question can then be put to the voters again in the statewide general primary that falls after this process is complete.
While the public was told that the GA 400 toll would end when the road had been paid for, the mechanism in the law that GA 400 always gave the power to extend the toll to the SRTA (State Road and Tollway Authority) Board, headed by the Governor. The same power has not been granted in the case of the current transportation referendum.
The toll revenues from the GA400 toll are being used to fund new transportation projects along the GA 400 corridor:
- I-85/GA 400 Connector Ramps
- I-85 Southbound/GA 400 Southbound Merge Modification
- GA 400 Lane Widening from McFarland Parkway to SR 20 (Preliminary Engineering Plan Only)
- GA 400 Managed Lanes Project from I-285 to McFarland Parkway (Preliminary Engineering Plan Only)
- GA 400 Northbound Third Transition Lane Extension at McFarland Parkway
- GA 400 Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) from McFarland Parkway to SR 20
- GA 400 HERO Expansion from McFarland Parkway to SR 20
- SR 140 (Holcomb Bridge Road) Advanced Transportation Management System (ATMS)
- Mansell Road Triple Left Turn Lane (GA 400 to North Point Parkway)
- GRTA Xpress Bus Service on GA 400
- GA 400 Northbound Ramp Extension at Abernathy Road
- Improvements to GA 400 at Northridge Road Interchange
- Enhanced Maintenance Improvements along GA 400 Corridor
- MARTA Buckhead Pedestrian Bridge
Read all FAQs and answers here.