It's been a little while since we discussed transportation in Atlanta, but as the 2012 General Assembly begins under the gold dome and MARTA enters the final year of the Beverly Scott era, it's probably a good time to revisit the issue. As you may recall, back in October (and after months of squabbling, negotiating and god knows what else) the Atlanta Regional Roundtable released its final project list for the proposed transportation SPLOST in the 10-county Atlanta metro area. Proponents and many local leaders cheered. The Tea Party, (quasi-)Libertarians and the usual chorus of "just because Atlanta is the state's biggest city and a giant regional economic driver doesn't mean it should receive more state funds than any other Georgia city" folks jeered.
Now the T-SPLOST question will be put to the voters, either this summer or in November's general election, and the state legislature is set to tackle the very thorny issue of a common sense notion that a regional transportation body needs to be established, with a mission to integrate the infrastructure and programs in place and all of the new projects being planned to create the most efficient, effective system possible. But yet again, the issue is tainted (and needlessly complicated) by the self-immolating Atlanta vs. The State of Georgia battle.
Obviously, MARTA has a central role in all of this. In a lengthy interview with Maria Saporta as she begins the final year of her contract, Beverly Scott discusses the aforementioned issues, as well as the grim realities she's faced in the wake of the recession and a continuing (unfounded, in her mind) local distaste for MARTA in spite of generally positive views of the system in national transportation circles.
In the end, as we see it, transportation in the metro Atlanta area comes down to one's perspective on investing in the future. On one side are people that still believe the solution to Atlanta's traffic problems are more roads and continued subservience to an auto-centric culture. On the other, those that recognize a need to begin- however incrementally or imperfectly- shifting the strategy toward increased public transit options and encouraging density, WITH support from the state— like major, world-class cities do.