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Lack of Support for Transportation Begets Regret

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Two years after metro Atlantans voted down the T-SPLOST referendum that would have funded a $7.2 billion wish list of transit and roadway projects over the course of a decade, a report by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) indicates that those very same Atlantans believe lack of transportation is the city's biggest problem. Twenty-four percent of respondents in the 10-county metro region ranked transportation as their primary concern in the city, beating out the economy, crime, public education, human services, taxes, public health and race relations.

In a county-by-county breakdown, Clayton, Gwinnett and Cherokee had the highest overall percentage of those who found transportation the biggest concern. Respondents from two counties, Fayette and Rockdale, bucked the trend and ranked the economy more startling than the lack of transportation options. When you live in the boonies, public transportation isn't that big of a deal.

While the support for bolstering transit is encouraging, another question on the survey sought the best way to accommodate growth in the city. There was a startling 10 percent decrease in support over last year's survey for redeveloping older areas in favor of continuing to build new suburbs. This seeming lack of comprehension of the correlation between densifying existing areas, versus continuing to sprawl, and ease of transportation is disturbing.

The AJC summed up the results of the study succinctly, indicating "seventy percent of the region overall said an improved public transit system, including buses and trains, was important to Atlanta's future." It's refreshing to hear those numbers, even if in the past the results from the ballot box haven't reflected the opinion. Regrettably, with little funding on the table, it'll be an uphill battle to go about expanding transit options. If we don't find a solution soon, the region is liable to stagnate as companies and talent seek other cities in an effort to escape the gridlock of our own making. Then again, that was the pre-T-SPLOST-vote thinking in 2012, and with corporate relocations, skyrocketing home prices and a clear upswing in construction since then, maybe wasting away in traffic isn't so bad after all?

— Michael Kahn

· Traffic Tops List of Residents' Concerns as ARC Releases Results of 2nd Annual Metro Atlanta Speaks Survey [ARC]
· Signs that transportation issues may be stalling metro Atlanta [AJC - paywall warning]
· ARC releases results of poll on transit, economy & education/ [Atlanta INtown]
· ARC's second Metro Atlanta Speaks poll shows stronger transit support [Saporta Report]