Officials tasked with deciding which new roads and transit lines will be funded by a one-cent sales tax were handed a drastically scaled-back list today of possible projects.
Atlanta Regional Commission staffers whittled down an original list of 446 road, transit, aviation and bike/pedestrian projects totaling $22.9 billion to 217 projects totaling more than $12.2 billion — not quite the $11.5 billion target set by metro Atlanta elected officials who sit on the so-called "regional roundtable" that will decide the project list. Projects were judged based congestion mitigation, deliverability, economic impact, geographic equality, local communities' priority needs and public input.
Keep in mind that $12.2 billion is double the amount of cash the tax is expected to generate if voters OK the measure next summer. That means the roundtable's executive committee, which includes Mayor Kasim Reed and Mayor Bill Floyd of Decatur, will have to trim the list once again before presenting it to the full roundtable on Aug. 15. (It's a grim reminder that, in a sprawling metro region that's way behind when it comes to transportation spending, several billion dollars might not get you as far as you'd hoped.)
Before we jump into what projects staffers cut — or start screaming that it's a road-lovers' list, as I initially did — remember that no projects have actually been eliminated. Sources remind us that all projects remain on the table and can be considered. The list released today is an attempt to focus on what projects should receive priority consideration.
According to the ARC, the scaled-down version — which staffers stress is a "work-in-progress" — includes:
* 6 aviation projects costing $28 million
* 15 bike/pedestrian projects costing $138 million
* 165 road projects costing $6.6 billion ($5.6 billion new capacity, $1 billion preservation)
* 31 transit projects costing $5.5 billion ($4.3 billion expansion, $1.1 billion maintenance and modernization, $0.1 billion other related infrastructure)
Nearly all transit projects saw large funding cuts. Cash for a MARTA heavy-rail extension up Ga. 400 was reduced from nearly $900 million to $100 million. Funding for Beltline transit and trail segments was cut by more than half, from $1.6 billion to $700 million. The Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, on the other hand, actually saw operational funding for its suburban Xpress buses increase, from $181 million to $200 million.
Cash to relocate Atlanta's Amtrak station to 17th Street and streetscape improvements and property purchases for the proposed downtown train terminal also made the list.
To view what projects survived the cut, download the list PDF.
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