Public transit gets boost as T-SPLOST, MARTA referendums pass - CBS46 News

Public transit gets boost as T-SPLOST, MARTA referendums pass

Posted: Updated:
Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Proponents of public transportation in the city of Atlanta are buzzing after voters overwhelmingly approved raising the sales tax to expand MARTA and the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

The approval of the referendums means that a city tired of traffic problems will add more public transportation and other streetscape improvements.

Residents supported the half-cent sales tax for MARTA transportation projects.

Officials at MARTA say the hike would generate anywhere from $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion over a 40 year period and will help to fund additional bus routes, expansion of existing transit systems and improvements to MARTA stations across the city. The money generated does not include any federal matching dollars.

Residents also approved the T-SPLOST referendum.

The Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax adds four cents to every $10 spent in the city of Atlanta and is expected to generate anywhere from $250 million to $300 million over the next 5 years.

Here's a look at some of the projects that will be funded by the T-SPLOST referendum:

  • $75 million to pave and resurface several streets in the city
  • $69 million for streetscape and sidewalk improvements
  • $66 million to buy land for the Atlanta Beltline and close the 22 mile loop
  • $40 million to coordinate traffic signals to ease congestion
  • $3 million for the second phase of the Bike Share program

City leaders say those projects would connect neighborhoods to 80 Atlanta public schools and all of the city's rail stations.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed released this statement regarding the approval of the measures:

"Tonight, voters approved two historic proposals to authorize the City of Atlanta and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) to modernize, expand and enhance our city’s transportation system.
Over the next five years, the City of Atlanta will build miles of Complete Streets projects, designing our streets so that they work for everyone – pedestrians, bikers and motorists. We will synchronize traffic signals, invest in sidewalks and pedestrian infrastructure, and build new bike paths. We will purchase the remaining land we need to complete the Atlanta BeltLine, putting us in a strong position to compete for federal dollars and accelerate transit construction along the 22-mile pathway. 

Our partners at MARTA can now invest in making the system easier, faster and more convenient throughout the city. Transit plays an essential role in ensuring that our residents have access to economic opportunities and that they can share in our city’s prosperity.

When Renew Atlanta projects are combined with our proposed TSPLOST and MARTA projects, 94 percent of our city’s residents and 98 percent of jobs will be within a half-mile of a new transportation project. 

Combined, the TSPLOST, MARTA and Renew Atlanta projects will ensure the City of Atlanta remains highly competitive, both for economic development and for the region’s best and brightest talent.

I want to thank again Governor Nathan Deal, Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston, as well as Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones and Representative Calvin Smyre, whose leadership made this vote possible.

Over the next 40 years, our city and region will continue to change and grow. By approving the two referenda, voters have put the City of Atlanta in a position to be proactive, flexible and adaptable. We’re laying the groundwork now to ensure we can build the city of the future that we all want.

Atlanta is making the right kind of changes and the right progress. Tonight, Atlanta chose to keep our momentum going."

Copyright 2016 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Connect with CBS46