Georgia Lawmakers Won’t Even Let Atlanta Vote on Transit Expansion

Once again, state lawmakers in Georgia have undermined urban transport in Atlanta. A bill to allow residents Fulton and DeKalb counties to vote on a half-cent sales tax to fund transit died in the Georgia Senate this week when leaders refused to bring it to the floor for a vote.

There's strong support for expansing MARTA among voters, but Georgia state lawmakers are stranding in the way. Photo: Wikipedia
There’s strong support for expanding MARTA among Atlanta-area voters, but Georgia state lawmakers are standing in the way. Photo: Wikipedia

A successful referendum would have raised $8 billion to expand the MARTA transit network. But for now there’s still no relief in sight for Atlanta’s stifling traffic and car dependence.

Polling by the local chamber of commerce revealed strong public support for the MARTA expansion proposal. But Georgia lawmakers won’t even give voters the opportunity to decide for themselves.

The bill was not taken up on the last day it could be considered by the House and Senate this legislative session. “It’s dead,” Republican Senator Brandon Beach of Alpharetta, who sponsored the legislation, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

The news means “the future of metro Atlanta’s public transit is uncertain,” writes alt weekly Creative Loafing, which relays rumors that resistance from lawmakers in North Fulton County ultimately spiked the bill.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed does hold some leverage in the situation. Reed said yesterday that “the issue is not over” and that he would block revenue raising measures for road expansion unless the MARTA ballot issue is allowed to proceed, according to the Saporta Report.

  • Chicagoan

    Could somebody explain to me why the Republican Party is apparently full of transit-hating, urban-hating politicians?

  • Probably because they’re paid to be so by some lobby or another.

  • neroden

    Partly, but also — and this is especially relevant in Georgia — racism.

    The *white* Republican legislators representing the *white racists* of Georgia — often people who moved to the surburbs as part of “white flight” — doesn’t want to allow anything good for the *black* mayor of Atlanta representing the *black population and non-racists* of Atlanta.

    I wouldn’t normally be so certain of this dynamic, but it’s Georgia and the dynamic is perfectly obvious.

  • Fair enough, although this anti-transit sentiment is not unique to the more racist parts of the US.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

$8 Billion Expansion of Atlanta Transit Clears First Hurdle

|
Atlanta’s regional transit network, MARTA, isn’t known as a dynamic, growing system. While cities as varied as D.C., Minneapolis, and Houston have rolled out new high-capacity transit routes, MARTA has stagnated. But has MARTA’s moment finally come? The prospects of major transit improvements for the region are looking more hopeful today than they have for a generation. Last week a Georgia […]

The Promise of Expanding Atlanta Transit Inside the City Limits

|
It looked like the Atlanta region’s ambitious transit plans might have been thwarted late last month when state lawmakers shot down a bill to allow Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb counties to hold ballot measures potentially raising $8 billion to expand MARTA. But maybe that was a blessing in disguise. Transit expansion plans for Atlanta are moving ahead […]

Atlanta’s Bad Traffic Situation Is About to Get Worse

|
Well, the Atlanta region has spoken. The proposed one-cent sales tax hike to support $7.15 billion in spending on transit and roads was roundly defeated Tuesday, with 62 percent opposing. Though approved by Atlanta city voters, none of the 10 counties considering the measure gave it the thumbs up, according to unofficial results. The defeat “leaves […]

Will Atlanta’s Transpo Referendum Overcome Early Voting Deficit?

|
It was fitting that yesterday, the eve of the Atlanta region’s historic transportation vote, the Georgia NAACP filed a civil rights suit against the state Department of Transportation alleging discrimination in contracting. Meanwhile, the head of the DeKalb County NAACP has come out against the T-SPLOST tax proposal, saying it will hurt minority-owned businesses. He even took a […]

Local Ballot Results: The Good, the Bad, and the Highway Money Grabs

|
While last night’s election is looking like decisively bad news for transit in the Senate and in several statehouses, the results from local ballot initiatives are a little brighter. Here are the highlights that have Streetsblog Network members buzzing, as well as results from other referendums around the country. Seattle Seattle voters approved a ballot […]