Your TIA Recap: What you can expect to see if the thing passes next year
Tuesday’s Atlanta Regional Roundtable meeting has given the Metro Atlanta region the list that is expected to be accepted and signed off during an official ceremony Thursday morning. In total, six amendments to the August 15th draft list were passed. Of these six, three involved a shuffling of money between road projects and three were concerning transit, most notably was the cutting of the light rail line into Cobb County.
The one cent sales tax created by the TIA if passed next year is expected to generate $6.14 billion to be used for transportation purposes in the ten county Metro Atlanta region. The draft project list had given $3.37 billion of those revenues to public transportation projects such as bus service to Clayton County, the Clifton Corridor, and the Beltline. The final list sees one major cut to that project list, the switching of $167 million from the Northwest light rail line into Cobb to road and intersection improvements along Windy Hill road in Cobb County. $20 million was added back to the transit side as road projects in Clayton County were cut to add money to the commuter rail line, leaving the final transit number at $3.22 billion of the TIA revenue, giving transit with 52.4% of the funds generated from the tax.
A second notable amendment that was accepted yesterday calls on the state to fulfill the capital funding shortfall left by the roundtable, stating that while the region has chipped in operating funds along with some capital, the remaining funds should be an ARC and state priority. Two amendments had been on the table to cut other transit projects, including MARTA state of good repair funding, to meet the shortfall, but this resolution replaced those.
A third amendment had been on the table that would have taken money from the 400 and 285 interchange project as well as the Clifton Corridor rail project to be added to the I-20 rail extension. Drafted by Dekalb CEO Burrell Ellis, this amendment went without a second failed to be considered. The scope of the I-20 rail extension will now include park and ride lots for a premium bus service that will mirror a line that will continued to be studied and prepared to be built, with the park and ride lots to be converted to stations.
So what does this mean for th region? It’s not a perfect list. But did you expect a roundtable of twenty-one elected officials from the Atlanta metro region that included suburban counties to come up with a perfect list? There are bad projects, like the Northern Arc, that have snuck their way on the list. But there are also good projects, like a new bus service for Clayton County, MARTA state of good repair funding, and some new rail. I, for one, will be voting for this. Just because it isn’t ideal doesn’t mean we should turn down $3.2 billion for transit when we haven’t done anything in the forty years since the MARTA Act was passed. There’s no guarantee that we would get a better list if this is voted down and we try again in a few years. Who’s to say they won’t blame the failure on there being too much transit? So two, maybe three new rail lines plus some good bus projects and some stuff that basically just keeps us running in the region? Yup, sign me up.
This is significant (the transit project list):
*Clifton Corridor Rail Project: $700 million
*Northwest Corridor Fixed Guideway Project: $689 million with $100 million of that going to a premium bus service that would mirror the entire route as designed (funding level in draft list: $856 million)
*Beltline Corridor: $602 million
*MARTA state of good repair including station rehab, train control upgrades: $600 million
*I-20 proposed rail and premium bus service: $225
*Clayton County bus service: $100 million
*GRTA Xpress operating assistance and capital: $95 million
*Gwinnett light rail project study money: $95 million
*Gwinnett County bus service operating assistance: $40 million
*MARTA SR 400 heavy rail extension study money: $37 million
*Griffin Commuter rail line study money: $20 million (funding level in draft list: $0)
*Regional Mobility Call Center: $17 million
*Bike/Ped improvements: $24.07 million
*Lindbergh BRT plus road improvements: $50 million