- By David Wickert The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Fulton County commissioners and mayors Monday agreed to a plan that could bring bus rapid transit service to some of the county’s busiest highways and thoroughfares.
Now comes the hard part: Getting the General Assembly and voters to sign off.
After months of study and 30 public meetings, the county commissioners and mayors decided to pursue a transit plan that would ask voters to approve a half-cent transit sales tax as soon as next fall. The tax would pay for a host of new transit lines outside the City of Atlanta, including:
*Bus rapid transit lines on Ga. 400, Holcomb Bridge Road, U.S. 29 and South Fulton Parkway. The lines would run on dedicates bus lanes or on the express lanes the Georgia Department of Transportation plans to build on Ga. 400.
*Arterial rapid transit lines on Roswell Road, Old Milton Parkway, Ga. 141, Fulton Industrial Boulevard and Camp Creek Parkway. The buses would operate in regular traffic, but would have pullouts at transit stops and would get priority at traffic signals to keep them moving.
The sales tax would raise $4.9 billion over 40 years to help pay for the improvements, but would still require federal funding to cover a quarter of the cost.
State lawmakers must approve legislation to allow the vote to occur. Legislation authorizing the vote and possibly state funding of mass transit in Georgia could come this week. But approval is no sure thing.
House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones, R-Milton, has pressed MARTA to pay for some improvements with the existing 1-cent MARTA tax that Fulton County residents have been paying for more than 40 years.
“The leadership of our (legislative) delegation and the state House is expressing concern,” County Commissioner Liz Hausmann said Monday. “I think we should pay attention to that.”
MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe, who attended Monday’s meeting, said the agency “tries very hard to provide as much service as we can within our limited budget.”
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