Gwinnett County commissioners have approved a referendum that, if passed, would allow MARTA into the county. The commission voted to approve a contract between the county and MARTA Wednesday morning and it will be put on the ballot for vote on March 19, 2019.

If voters approve the contract, a 1 percent sales tax would be levied, starting on July 1, 2019.

Although many county residents are happy with the approval, their upset with the timing of the vote. Some people say they want to vote on the issue in November and not in March of 2019.

Gwinnett Board of Commissioners approves #MARTA #transit referendum to appear on ballot in March 2019. Many residents upset it won’t be on November’s ballot. @cbs46 #GwinnettCounty— Giovanna Drpic (@GiovannaDrpic) August 1, 2018

Residents sound off

After the commissioner voted to put the referendum on the ballot, several residents shared their opinions during a public comment session. Nearly all were in favor of MARTA expanding into the county.

"Traffic out here is awful," said Sintria Williams-Ragin, who lives in Gwinnett County. "I think the MARTA should be in this area."

She says it would be nice to see other transportation options.

Gwinnett County has a population of nearly a million people and it is expected to grow nearly half a million in the next 20 years.

"Currently we've got a pretty limited transit system," said Alan Chapman.

Alan Chapman is the Gwinnett County Department of Transportation Director. He says his team has come up with several transit improvement options.

One option explores the idea of connecting regional transit systems. That could mean extending MARTA service into Gwinnett County.

"A short extension of the existing heavy rail from Doraville North into Gwinnett County to what would be a multi-modal hub that could tie the rest of the transit system into the heavy rail," said Chapman.

The fact MARTA is even making it to the table for discussion pleases some customers.

"So I think that would be a big option for MARTA to come into Gwinnett," said Chevy Reid.

All options are part of a 30 year plan depending on funding availability through possible taxes.

As for MARTA, Chapman says obviously that would involve a lot more people and approvals including a newly formed state transportation committee before something like that could move forward. But it is an option being put out there.

Copyright 2018 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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