Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

House committee shoots down DeKalb MARTA expansion bill

A bill that would have allowed DeKalb County residents to vote on a MARTA expansion this year failed to pass a Senate committee Tuesday.

Senate Bill 251 died on a 3-4 vote in the Senate Transportation Committee. Supporters later proposed a motion to reconsider the decision, but Sen. Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, the committee’s chairman, did not allow a vote on the motion and adjourned the meeting.

The bill would have allowed a referendum as soon as this year on a .5 percent sales tax increase to pay for a MARTA expansion. MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe told the committee the bill would give DeKalb “the right to decide for itself what, if any, more MARTA it wants in its jurisdiction.”

But Sen. Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, spoke against the bill. He sponsored Senate Bill 156, which authorizes a DeKalb vote on a 1-cent sales tax for transportation and public safety construction, but prohibits additional funding for MARTA. Milar’s bill passed the Senate Monday.

Millar said he is “not anti-MARTA at all.” But he said DeKalb’s priority should be $250 million in needed improvements to roads and bridges.

Tuesday’s vote may not be the end of the debate over a DeKalb MARTA expansion. Butler also has sponsored Senate Bill 224, local legislation that would allow a referendum. And Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain, has sponsored House Bill 386, which also would allow a vote.

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About the Author

David Wickert covers transportation issues for the Enterprise team. He joined the AJC in 2010 and has also covered local government in Gwinnett and Fulton counties.