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How Georgia’s governor candidates plan to tackle transportation issues

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Can Stacey Abrams or Brian Kemp help save Atlanta motorists from traffic woes?

Northbound traffic crawls out of Midtown in May 2005, back when the Texas Transportation Institute ranked Atlanta fourth behind Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. for delays per traveler on its roads
Northbound traffic crawls out of Midtown in May 2005, back when the Texas Transportation Institute ranked Atlanta fourth behind Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., for delays per traveler.
Barry Williams, Getty Images

This year’s gubernatorial contest has largely been mired in debates about elections security, healthcare, and President Donald Trump, but there’s so much more to the candidates than what people see in their attack ads.

One issue that seems to fall by the wayside is transportation.

At the helm of state government, either Democrat Stacey Abrams or Republican Brian Kemp will help determine the future of Georgia’s transportation infrastructure.

But do either of them have a reasonable shot at repairing aging roadways or speeding up traffic in a way that makes our lives better?

They’re not nearly as divided as you might think.

Abrams.
Getty Images
Kemp.
Getty Images

According to a Q&A by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Abrams said she wants to ensure Georgia “remains a key investor in transit” via bonds and, when appropriate, use of the general fund.

Kemp told the newspaper that successful transit should come by way of public-private partnerships. He nods to the state’s plan to spend $100 million for bus rapid transit lines on Ga. Highway 400 as a good example.

Both candidates said they supported the recently passed House Bill 930, which created a regional transit board—the ATL Board—and allowed 13 metro Atlanta cities the option to tax themselves to help pay for transit initiatives.

Abrams said transit needs to be a “statewide imperative” so that people can access jobs and find their way out of food deserts. She went so far as to endorse the idea of transit projects in rural Georgia.

Kemp didn’t say he’s opposed to seeing transit projects pop up in rural areas, although he said it’ll take careful consideration, since transportation needs in those regions are far different than those in metro Atlanta.

Kemp and Abrams both said they’d like to see Georgia’s transit project selection process become more transparent and less political. Abrams added that she’d like to improve the community engagement part of the process.

Asked if they would repeal any revenue streams created by the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, Abrams said she would “reexamine our treatment of low emission vehicles” as well as the hotel/motel tax that helps fund highway and bridge construction.

Also: “I would review decreasing or removing the motor fuel taxes on transit and school systems,” she said.

Kemp said he wouldn’t cut any of those revenue streams.