Atlanta officials attempt to launch historic transportation construction plan

If an Aug. 15 deadline is met, region could see largest infrastructure investment in 40 years

August 11, 2011

Officials in the Atlanta area will attempt to agree on a list of transportation projects that will call for a referendum vote during the next election.

Five mayors and county commissioners were expected to meet today (Aug. 11) and approve the construction strategy that covers the 10 Atlanta region counties. The projects are currently billed at $6.14 billion. If the group cannot come to a compromise on Aug. 11 they will be required to make a move by Monday, Aug. 15, in accordance with state law.

“This is a very difficult process, probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do in my political career,” admitted Tom Worthan, who is chairman of the Douglas County Commission and a member of the group of five.

Worthan was confident that the list would get approved, however, it would require voters to pass a referendum that calls for a 1% sales tax increase over the next 10 years. If passed, the construction movement would be the largest the Atlanta region has seen in 40 years. A 21-member roundtable also will have to approve the strategy by Oct. 15 prior to the referendum making it on the ballot. If that Oct. 15 deadline is missed, the district cannot try for the measure again for another two years, and “special district gridlock” will be declared.

Congestion is killing commuter and freight movement in the area, and in order to fit the needed projects into a $6.14 billion package $420 million worth still needed to be cut by Aug. 15. At stake are transit projects that were added late to the wish list.