Atlanta panel approves regional transportation list

| 8/17/2011

A special panel in Atlanta this week approved a $6.1 billion list of transportation projects to be built in the region. Voters must sign off on the final list of projects and a tax increase to pay for the work.

In 2010, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law a bill to authorize a select group of elected officials to come up with a list of local projects and submit the list to voters, along with the 1-cent sales tax increase to fund them.

The executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable agreed Monday, Aug. 15, on a first draft of highway and transit projects that would get attention through a proposed regional sales tax.

The public will soon be able to comment on the more than 100 projects identified by the 21-member roundtable of mayors and county commissioners from the area. There are 12 public meetings scheduled in the Atlanta region before the list must be finalized on Oct. 15.

Projects on the draft list include a possible light rail project from Atlanta to Cumberland; improvements for the interchange of Interstate 285 at Georgia 400; and interchange improvements at Interstate 85 at I-285.

Voters in the affected counties will get the final say on the proposed 1-cent sales tax increase to fund road, bridge and transit projects during the next decade. The issue is slated to be on the 2012 presidential primary ballot.

If approved by voters in the 10-county area, work could begin on the identified projects. Counties cannot opt out of the region’s tax.

The tax is expected to raise about $7 billion. All but about $1 billion will be devoted to the regional project list. The rest of the money could be spent by counties and cities on various transportation projects.

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