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Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative – AIEV Update

The following message is from Betty Willis, AIEV Board member:

Dear Clifton Corridor Neighbor,

This time next year, voters throughout Georgia will be going to the polls to vote on the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) referendum which would allow for a special one cent sales tax to pay for transportation projects, specific to regions in which the tax is collected. A number of Atlanta leaders have likened this unprecedented opportunity to transform the region’s transportation system and the resulting economic development benefits, to Atlanta hosting the 1996 summer Olympics. Now is the time for you to have a voice in Atlanta’s future and to help ensure the quality of life you want and deserve. I write to urge your participation in this critically important process.

While the July 2012 primary election is a year away, the selection of projects that will be voted on in the Atlanta metro region is being drafted right now by 21 elected officials from the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) region, who comprise the Roundtable (see attached list). One of the projects, the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative (CCTI), is of particular importance to the thousands of employees and residents who work and live in the Clifton Corridor, as it would have a significantly positive impact by reducing congestion and provide a much-needed alternative to single occupancy vehicles. The CCTI is a proposed new transit line linking the Clifton Corridor to the existing Lindbergh MARTA station, as well as a new link from Armour Yard, connecting to MARTA’s red and gold lines, which would provide access to Doraville, North Springs and the airport. The CCTI is one of the priority transit projects currently being considered and it must remain on the list being formed by the Roundtable in order to receive funding in the future. The Roundtable will be making recommendations on which transit projects they support keeping on the draft final list, due by August 15. Following public hearings in August and September, the final list will be voted on for approval on October 15.

To provide some background on the current process underway, the TIA, approved by the General Assembly in 2010, divided the State into 12 regions, each charged with providing a list of transportation projects of importance to those regions. Each of the 12 regions are guided by elected officials (the county commission chair and one mayor from each county), who comprise the Roundtable for each of these regions, and they will ultimately decide the projects to be voted on by the citizens of their regions.

This past spring, elected officials from the 10 ARC counties submitted their “wish lists” of projects to Todd Long, Planning Director for the GA Department of Transportation (GDOT), which totaled $22.9 billion. Because the one cent sales tax is estimated to generate between $6-7 billion for the ARC region over a ten year period, this list must be significantly reduced by the Roundtable to reflect projects that could be funded within this revenue range. There are specific criteria for a project to be considered for the final list, including factors such as providing connectivity across the region, relieving traffic congestion, serving major employment centers, supporting job creation, being able to be delivered within 10 years, and having strong community support.

On June 9, the GA Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) released their list of recommended transit projects to the ARC Roundtable for inclusion in the 2012 referendum. The CCTI was one of the recommended projects that met the criteria and would also likely have strong ridership. At that meeting, the Roundtable instructed the ARC staff to take a first draft at cutting the project list from $22.9 billion to about $11.5 billion, as a starting point for consideration by the Roundtable. The shortened list of transit projects was presented to the Roundtable at their July 7 meeting and once again, the CCTI was selected as a priority transit project to be considered for the final project list. The next step is for the Roundtable to meet on July 21 and present a draft list of projects further reduced from $11.5 billion to $6.1.

We must ensure the CCTI remains on the list through the process and it will be critically important for you to communicate to the ARC Roundtable members, especially those representing DeKalb County—CEO Burrell Ellis and Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd. I have attached the list of all 21-member Roundtable officials and their email addresses for your convenience and urge you to let them know how important the CCTI is for the Clifton Corridor community as well as the Metro Atlanta region. Below are some talking points you may wish to include in your email, though your own passionate message sent to them ASAP is most important!

Please let me know if you have any questions or need additional information. There are several websites that provide more detailed information on the TIA referendum, the project selection process as well as opportunities to sign up to receive email updates:

http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com
http://www.grta.org
http://www.2012metroatlantareferendum.com

TALKING POINTS:

  • The Clifton Corridor is the largest activity center in the Atlanta region with NO direct access to the Interstate system or to MARTA—only 2 and 4 lane arterial roads feed into the Corridor, and they are highly congested during peak hours.
  • There are over 30,000 employees in the Clifton Corridor and an additional 48,000 cars passing through the Corridor each day to further exacerbate congestion
  • Job creation in the Corridor is expected to continue with plans for a new hospital and research facilities at Emory, additional expansion of the CDC, a new mixed use residential/retail development on Clifton Road and other construction projects
  • The regional economic impact of Emory, the 4th largest employer in the Metro area, is $5.123 billion. Combined with other institutions in the Corridor, the overall economic impact of this significant employment center is huge.  A transit alternative to reduce automobile congestion and dependency is critical to the future of this thriving area.
  • The FULL FUNDING recommended by the ARC staff, MARTA and GRTA ($1.1 billion) should stay intact in order to provide the viable connectivity needed.

Many, many thanks for your participation in helping to ensure the Clifton Corridor Transit Initiative stays on track!

Betty

Betty E. Willis
Senior Associate Vice President
Governmental & Community Affairs
Emory University

Executive Director
The Clifton Community Partnership

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