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TSPLOST for MARTA, Beltline: biased reasons for voting 'yes'

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Transit authority, Beltline organization, talk positive outcomes for transportation in recent columns

Well, if you haven’t already voted like hundreds of thousands in metro Atlanta, tomorrow is the big day (duh).

Setting aside for a moment the insanity that is the presidential election (if you’re able), here’s an admittedly biased roundup by leaders with MARTA and the Beltline who penned recent columns for the TSPLOST vote — also on the ballot for Atlanta’s voters.

On the table are two votes. Referenda for Atlanta transportation and MARTA expansion would authorize a four-tenths of a penny local option sales tax for transportation (TSPLOST) and half-cent MARTA sales tax, respectively.

These would make for a combined eventual total of more than $2.8 billion in citywide transit and transportation projects. Supporters have called this an unprecedented investment in city infrastructure — putting Atlanta at the forefront among U.S. peers.

Cheering for the "yes" vote, MARTA General Manager and CEO Keith T. Parker said funds will be used to enhance and expand services "to better connect our existing communities, and to help manage the transportation needs of a population that is projected to double during that time."

Added Parker: "We know we are up to the challenge – MARTA already completes over 400,000 passenger trips per day."

And, ending the column with rhetorical flourish: "With the resources to let MARTA keep doing our job, we’ll do our part in moving Atlanta forward."

Echoing the optimism above, Atlanta Beltline Partnership Executive Director Rob Brawner said the two votes are nothing short of an "opportunity to profoundly improve the way we travel to our jobs, schools, and stores."

He too pointed to Atlanta's rapidly growing population — the city itself gained 40,000 residents from 2010 to 2015.

"Our new neighbors are adding to our city’s liveliness and livelihood," Brawner said. "But without changes to our infrastructure, more people will diminish our quality of life."

Added Brawner: "To remain economically competitive and to enjoy a thriving city, we must build transportation infrastructure to support our current residents — and the new residents projected to grow our city to 1.3 million by 2050.

With regard to Beltline funding, if the measure passes, $66 million would be used to acquire and light the remainder of the 22-mile Atlanta Beltline corridor, as well as the local funding required to build Atlanta Beltline transit, Brawner writes.

Brawner called the votes an "unprecedented opportunity to ensure the Atlanta Beltline vision is realized," adding, "We cannot afford to waste it."

So, what say you?