10 Facts on the Transportation Referendum
By Tad Leithead
Every metro Atlanta resident should know by now that there is an important decision before them today. This region has the opportunity to act on a transportation referendum that would raise $8.5 billion through a 1 percent sales tax to fund 157 transportation projects across this 10-county region.
Here are some facts to consider as you go to the polls:
1. Georgia ranks 48th in the nation in transportation spending per capita, and fourth in total hours the average commuter spends on the road each day.
2. About 70 percent of the region’s existing, scheduled transportation funding for the next 30 years will be spent on just maintaining the existing network, leaving little room for expansion, without additional funding.
3. As the region grows — by some 3 million more people in the next 25 years — congestion will worsen. Meanwhile, gas tax revenues continue to decline as cars become more fuel-efficient.
4. All monies generated here by the 10-year, regional transportation referendum would stay here. Proceeds would be invested in a range of priority projects in our 10 counties, from interchange improvements at I-285 and Ga. 400, to road and safety improvements, to a new light rail line from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Clifton Corridor.
5. The economic impact over time on the Atlanta region would be far greater than the 1996 Olympics. The referendum investment would result in a $34.8 billion increase in gross regional product in the Atlanta region by 2040. That’s a 4-to-1 return on investment.
6. Some 200,000 jobs would be created or retained through the build-out of these new transportation projects, with positive economic effects felt through several decades. That equates to approximately 7,100 jobs each year from 2013 through 2040.
7. Policies for strong small business and minority contracting and workforce development efforts have been developed and adopted by key agencies responsible for the project build-out.
8. Commuters spend an average of $924 each year due to traffic congestion. Collectively, the referendum projects would allow residents to save $9.2 billion by 2040, through time and fuel savings.
9. Travelers will enjoy a 24 percent average decrease in future travel delays on roadways improved through road widening, new construction and improved interchanges.
10. Air quality also would improve, equal to taking 72,000 vehicles off the roads daily. That’s a refreshing thought.
These are the facts. But there are personal stories behind these 10 points. This referendum is about a dad being able to get home a little faster to attend his child’s baseball game or the small businesswoman getting to her sales call on time. It’s about the student who is able to get to classes at the university, without owning a car. And it’s about the senior citizen who can’t drive anymore, but has new options to travel and live a full life.
Weigh the facts and please vote today.
Tad Leithead is chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission.