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In addition to bicycle facilities, we must also continue making our communities better connected and more pedestrian friendly. I remain a staunch advocate of the Atlanta BeltLine and support additional investments when resources are available to the continued build out of the planned trails associated with the project. In District 6, many now use the BeltLine paths rather instead of their automobiles to make short trips. And we must continue seeking financial resources to maintain and improve our sidewalks, roads and crosswalks to support and encourage pedestrian traffic. The infrastructure bond that is currently being contemplated for 2014 could be a significant source of funds for this work.
Of course we mustn't stop seeking funds for long-term transit solutions, either through state and federal transportation grants or perhaps a smaller geographic region sales tax, seeing as how a majority of City of Atlanta voters did support the T-SPLOST.
Boyle: Transportation should be a fixed or even declining percentage of an economy. The fact that sales taxes over the last three decades have consumed an increasing percentage of the economy means we're seeing poor planning, some type of parasitic loss (ie non competitive bidding processes or corruption) or some other form of losses. Sales taxes have risen by 60% since the 1980's AND that's on a larger economic base and in an era of cheaper money. We really need greater transparency on bond issues, debt profiles and where the cash goes. In terms of funding new projects, we should do so from these identifiable sources of waste.
In terms of how to filter new projects, I think you should look at a couple criteria: does the project yield demonstrable benefits for Atlantan's qualify of life in terms of shortening commute times? Does the project have sustainability attributes that make it attractive – does it help reduce our environmental footprint, reduce our dependence on petroleum, and provide clean air and water benefits? Does it make Atlanta an attractive place to invest? An attractive place for the young talent coming out of our many colleges and universities to stay and call it home?
Finally, in terms of addressing our traffic bottle necks, we should look at facilitating time-of-use-shifting of work in businesses where that could be viable, in order to better match transportation system supply and demand. So, for example, for businesses where it's practical, change your work day from 9 to 5 to noon to 8, and you reduce hours lost in traffic for everyone's benefit.
Austin: Atlanta must begin to match the quality and scope of transportation services to the city's growth. According to the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, over the last 10 years, metro Atlanta's traffic congestion has grown from the 15th to the 4th worst in the country, making it the region's top challenge to attracting and retaining companies and the high-quality jobs that come with them.
Solution: Continue to identify creative and innovative sources of funding such as public-private partnerships to fund transportation projects. By doing so, projects can be fully funded, and brought to completion faster.
Solution: Continue high-accountability and transparency in transportation spending.
Solution: Create an ongoing method of collecting data – customer feedback, and traffic analysis locations/times of the day; and accidents; so the city can target the areas with the worst traffic problems and prioritize accordingly.
Solution: Through proper legislation, sustainable approaches should be encouraged by the council to address transportation such as creating incentives to purchase energy efficient and smaller vehicles; increasing the number of charging stations throughout the city. Encourage walking and biking over driving; and encourage the use of public transportation.
Homelessness in Atlanta remains a pressing problem. However, the city's charter limits what it can do to fight the issue. What realistic options does the city have when it comes to tackling homelessness?
Wan: From 2009-2012, I was the Director of Development at a Jerusalem House, Atlanta's largest provider of permanent, supportive housing for homeless and low-income individuals and families living with HIV/AIDS. Working firsthand with the men, women and children served by the organization gave me a clearer understanding of the challenges of homelessness as well as some effective approaches to addressing the issue.
I draw from this experience in believing that Atlanta's solution most likely lies in establishing collaborative partnerships with the non-profit sector. There are many outstanding organizations working in this space, and their nimbleness and efficiency make them great soldiers in this fight, enabling them to leverage even further what limited resources the city is able to make available to them.
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