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Georgia Screws Transit Riders, Again

11:41 AM EDT on June 3, 2015

Georgia ranks near the bottom in transit spending among U.S. states. MARTA, which serves residents of the Atlanta region, is the largest transit system in the country to receive no state funding.

And Darin at Network blog ATL Urbanist reports that the state has yanked the rug from under transit-using Georgians once again.

As jobs in Georgia spread farther out, the state isn’t making it any easier to get to work without driving. Photo: James Willamor/Flickr
As jobs in Georgia spread farther out, the state isn’t making it any easier to get to work without driving. Photo: James Willamor/Flickr
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[Y]ou can understand the excitement felt by many when it was announced earlier this year that the state was going to set aside $100 million in bonds for transit projects statewide. It’s a small amount of money considering the budgets of transit systems, but it was encouraging to see Georgia at least make the gesture -- one that might, arguably, be a sign of changing opinions on transit spending at the state level.

But this week we have news that the amount, already a small gesture, has gotten smaller. It now stands at $75 million. Why?

It turns out the State Road and Tollway Authority diverted 25 percent of that $100 million mostly for the “Savannah Megasite,” which the Atlanta Business Chronicle describes as “a 1,558-acre property at interstates 16 and 95 the state has been trying for years to peddle to auto manufacturers eying Georgia.”

Darin says the $25 million is needed to help Atlantans get to work. This week, Brookings reported that Atlanta is one of the worst metros in the nation when it comes to job sprawl, i.e. the proximity of residents to workplaces.

Adding insult to injury, Darin notes, the “Savannah Megasite” is a far piece from central Savannah, and would be difficult to access without a car.

Elsewhere today: Itinerant Urbanist says a proposed Chicago airport connector is a bad idea that won’t go away; Urban Indy features repurposed structures saved by socializing; and The Dirt has an interesting story on how the blind navigate cities.

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