No relief in sight for Atlanta traffic

News Atlanta Journal-Constitution July 13, 2006
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Traffic in the city of Atlanta is about to get even worse as more and more people decide to move to the area. According to regional planners, more than two million people will move to the Atlanta area in the next 25 years, bringing their cars and trucks with them.

With the roads already jammed with traffic, residents and officials wonder where the extra vehicles will go, and how will people get to work?

Those questions will face whoever is elected governor of Georgia in November.

The state's top elected official also will face the challenge of finding the money to pay for all of the projects that transportation planners say are needed, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Georgia's gasoline tax is the second lowest in the nation, according to the newspaper, and has not been raised in nearly three decades, while the cost of constructing roads and bridges continues to rise. Meanwhile, local transit providers are facing their own financial difficulties and are in search of more money, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The governor may have to soon look into new funding sources, such as raising the gas-tax rate or seeking a transportation sales tax, said Michael Meyer, a Georgia Tech professor and transportation consultant.

"It's pretty clear to me this state is rapidly approaching a crisis in transportation funding," said Meyer.

The governor also may face the growing debate over how much of the state's transportation dollars should be spent on transit projects such as commuter rail or express buses, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In the meantime, state road builders have been faced with record highway contracts, and a new regional transportation funding formula by Gov. Sonny Perdue appears to favor big road projects over transit, the newspaper reported.

Construction of the state's first commuter rail project, between Atlanta and Clayton County, has been delayed amid questions of whether the state Legislature must approve the project, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

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