The Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable's executive committee said Monday it came up with the master list of transportation projects it hopes metro residents will agree to pay for by voting in a 1-cent sales tax next year.
The final draft list, which is expected to cost a collective $6.14 billion, includes $856.5 million for a 12.8-mile rail line to connect MARTA's Arts Center Station in Midtown Atlanta to the Cumberland Mall area. Only about one mile of the line, which is projected to cost about $1.2 billion to construct and $9.6 million annually to operate, would be in Cobb.
Faye DiMassimo, Cobb’s transportation director, has indicated that the remaining funding for the rail line, which could take as long as 15 years to build, could come from such areas as federal grants, state funding or a future sales tax.
The list won't be final until October and the roundtable is hosting several public hearings to get residents' feedback. Also on the list is $26 million in funding for a four-lane divided highway between Terrell Mill and Windy Hill Roads.
The roundtable cut an original wish list of 400 projects, costing $22 billion, down to just over 100.
The penny special purpose local option sales tax for transportation (TSPLOST) is set to be put to voters in a regional referendum in July of 2012. However, Gov. Nathan Deal has asked Georgia lawmakers during the current special session to move it to the general election, Nov. 6, 2012. If voters approve, the tax could generate about $7.2 billion over a 10-year period — which would cover the $6.1 billion cost of these regional projects.
Opinion varies on the subject. Earlier this summer, several questions were posed here at Smyrna-Vinings Patch.
Smyrna businessman Narayan Sengupta recently told The Marietta Daily Journal, “The cheaper, and probably more practical, alternative is to simply run free shuttle buses from certain key points in Cobb County all the way to the Midtown MARTA Station. This would be easy to implement, would provide empirical data for projecting ridership and would also help determine if traffic congestion would be eased.’’
Meanwhile, Ron Sifen of Vinings told the MDJ: “I am willing to support a $6 billion tax only if we get $6 billion of traffic congestion relief, AND the money is not spent in ways that requires government to come back and demand even more tax increases to pay for future operating costs."
- Patch editor contributed to this story.