You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

OPINION: Transit expansion in Atlanta has left the station


The debate over transit expansion in Atlanta has left the station.

The City of Atlanta is moving full speed ahead on providing the world-class transportation options that its residents and businesses continue to support, and demand, in overwhelming fashion.

Last November, the sales-tax referendum on a $2.6 billion MARTA expansion passed with 71 percent approval. The accompanying T-SPLOST, which will raise an estimated $300 million for infrastructure projects, won a 68 percent majority.

Those are landslide margins. City residents are voting with their pocketbooks and businesses are voting with their feet in order to improve their lives and bottom lines by locating near transit.

The message is clear: Atlanta wants to be in the future business.

NCR, Honeywell, GE Digital, UPS, EquiFax and Anthem are moving into Atlanta or expanding their presence here. They all want convenient access to MARTA.

So does State Farm in Dunwoody and Mercedes-Benz in Sandy Springs.

For decades now, Atlanta’s investment in transportation infrastructure has set the city above our regional competitors. Our landmark decisions to invest in MARTA and Hartsfield-Jackson airport have been critical factors in building Metro Atlanta into the dominant economic and cultural engine of the Southeast.

In the last two years, Atlanta taxpayers have doubled down on that investment, beginning in March 2015 with approval of the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure Bond program, which is already delivering $250 million in infrastructure improvements in a timely and efficient manner.

We are fixing roads and bridges; engineering more than 30 miles of Complete Streets projects, including bicycle lanes; and synchronizing traffic signals.

Thanks to the city’s robust AA+ credit rating – its highest in 50 years — we are funding these improvements at historically low rates.

MARTA’s expansion means the potential is very real for new light-rail transit and flexible bus service that will connect with existing heavy rail and the Atlanta Streetcar.

Anti-transit voices often advocate for short-term fixes over long-term projects, like Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) over heavy or light rail. We recognize that BRT is part of the solution. But there’s no question that our investments in rail have been a driving force in our region’s growing economy.

Yes, the Streetcar has had setbacks, but it’s also a new start-up system operating at 97 percent on-time efficiency.

The Streetcar’s proven ability to connect previously isolated corridors to economic opportunity should excite anyone hoping for positive outcomes in our city.

Since the Streetcar opened, it has served 1.3 million riders. More than $2.5 billion in economic activity has occurred within a five-minute walk of the line. This includes the $96 million Post Centennial Park, the first new residential property downtown for families and young professionals in 20 years.

The Streetcar’s eventual expansion will provide a link from downtown to the Atlanta Beltline for the 50 million annual visitors who make Atlanta the fourth most-visited city in America.

Detractors say the Streetcar doesn’t go far enough fast enough. That’s hardly a convincing argument for the future. The current 2.7-mile Streetcar loop is the first stake in the ground for a system that will connect more businesses and neighborhoods to a world-class transportation ecosystem.

Imagine if Atlanta leaders a half-century ago had ignored investments in transit and our airport because their reach seemed limited. What if they had hedged on our future and relied only on roads and the interstate highways for mobility?

The bottom line is that Georgia’s thriving capital city — known for such outrageous ideas as hosting the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games and building the Atlanta Beltline — has a track record for delivering. We know how to turn the most daring dreams into transformative reality.

Watch us go.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

Readers Write: May 24

U.S. heading down dangerous path Throughout history you will find countries that self-destructed because of internal strife. This country, the “United” States of America seems to be heading down a similar path. No matter who gets elected to lead us there is always someone who wants to undermine his/her efforts. If the scientists are correct...
Opinion: Question for Georgia GOP: What is a state party anymore?
Opinion: Question for Georgia GOP: What is a state party anymore?

Georgia GOP Chairman John Padgett. (AJC Photo / Bob Andres) In less than two weeks the Georgia Republican Party will have a new chairman.
Opinion: Pranked by Democrats? No, this ad is all Mast

An oddly timed political commercial has been appearing on West Palm Beach television stations, aimed at voters in Florida’s 18th congressional district. The ad urges people to call Rep. Brian Mast and thank him for courageously standing with President Trump and working to repeal Obamacare. At first the commercial appears to be a prank hatched...
Should students expect material on AP or IB exams they never studied in class?
Should students expect material on AP or IB exams they never studied in class?

I’ve been spending time around graduating high school seniors this week, my twins and their classmates as well as the children of friends. So, I’ve been hearing gripes about tests, not teacher-produced tests that kids typically find fair but standardized tests. The complaint: Their Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate ...
Opinion: Sorry, “gone fishin'”
Opinion: Sorry, “gone fishin'”

Just a note: I’m taking a few days off, and should be back by mid-week if the world doesn’t fall apart in the meantime.
More Stories