UPDATE > GREAT NEWS! Both ballot referenda passed on election day. While there remains a lot of uncertainty about our national politics, at least locally we will have solid resources to prepare for our future. Great work everyone!
(ideas.) Such drama with this election. Our choice for who will be the best President matters, of course, because she will bring more focus to things like infrastructure, our economy, and schools. But we also need to do our part locally, and in another crazy twist to this cycle, we actually get to vote and do that. It’s incredible, but that vote is all the way at the end of the ballot, so don’t stop short at the polls. For City of Atlanta residents who care about mobility, affordability, health, and our global competitiveness, or who are just tired of sitting in traffic, there are two relevant ballot referenda at the end and both deserve your VOTE YES.
One is called TSPLOST – it’s a four-tenths of a penny sales tax for five years that will generate about $300 million for transportation projects across the city, including $66 million to complete land acquisitions for the Atlanta Beltline. See the full list of projects here.
The other vote is for MARTA service expansion – it’s a half penny sales tax for forty years that will generate about $2.5 billion for transit projects within the City of Atlanta. This is a generational investment in transit. It includes the Atlanta Beltline, but also all kinds of other projects all over the city. Check them out here.
In a previous post, I answered the question of why transit on the Atlanta Beltline is so essential. It makes the project work for everyone and it allows us to protect mobility within the context of significant growth and traffic.
With the growing civic dialogue about equity and affordability, however, in this post I want to add that not building transit would likely make our challenges worse. Growth would still come, but most people would still drive and traffic would become gridlocked. Because of their locational advantage, prices of intown communities would skyrocket. That’s essentially what’s happening now.
If change is coming anyway, transit can help us manage that change. It can reduce the cost of living by making car ownership optional for many families. It can attract jobs and other investments to our communities, reducing our need to travel so far. And it can open up opportunities for new businesses by spurring on an expanded economy.
To be sure, we need much more than just transit to tackle long-term affordability, but without transit, we have no chance of achieving that goal. We’ll need to speak up to ensure we have commitments to an equitable transit system that supports affordability, and we’ll have to stay loud to make sure they’re fulfilled. But we also need to build the actual transit. And to do that, we have to fund it. And the opportunity to fund transit doesn’t come around that often in Georgia. This is our chance to get ahead of our change and leverage it to create the future we want.
Please VOTE YES to both referenda! >> Ryan Gravel