As we move toward the July 31 vote for the region’s landmark transportation referendum, the DeKalb Chamber remains fully in support of this progressive plan to tackle metro Atlanta’s traffic woes and transportation needs.
In spending approximately $8 billion for more than 150 projects, the Atlanta region receives more than $34 billion back by 2040. Thanks to the increased travel time savings and reduced fuel costs this plan will bring about, regional residents will save a combined total of more than $18 billion, in current dollars, by 2040. The transportation referendum, and the investment it represents, will support 34,000 construction jobs by 2040 and an additional 200,000 jobs, including those that are supported year-over-year.
The DeKalb Chamber (Chamber) would like to commend and thank CEO Burrell Ellis and Mayor Bill Floyd for their leadership on the Atlanta Regional Roundtable. The adoption of the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) project list demonstrates leadership and regional cooperation by CEO Ellis and Mayor Floyd. In light of the total sum of funds and the allocation to DeKalb, the Chamber believes that DeKalb County received its fair share of $1.017 billion from the $6.14 billion. DeKalb County’s project list is as follows:
- I-285 at I-85 – $26.5 million
- Lenox Road – $5 million
- Buford Highway – $12 million
- CSX Bridge at Emory – $25 million
- Glenwood Road – $5 million
- Indian Creek Corridor – $5 million
- N. Druid Hills Road Corridor – $25 million
- Panola Road widening – $31 million
- Panola Road at I-20 – $21 million
- Mt. Vernon Road to Dunwoody Club Drive – $12 million
- Buford Hwy Connector – $25 million
- I-20 East MARTA corridor improvements – $225 million
- Clifton Corridor – $700 million
In addition, DeKalb County will receive another $149 million in discretionary funds, a call center and funds to go toward MARTA’s “state of good repair”, which will be funded by everyone in the region.
We, along with many others in DeKalb County, would have liked to have seen more funds dedicated to the expansion of rail down I-20. However, we are pleased that $225 million was allocated especially considering that originally no monies were set aside. Moreover, these funds can be used to leverage additional funds in the future.
Because I-20 was not funded to a greater degree, there are some who have publically stated they will not support the TIA and may in fact advocate against its passage. However, to actively engage in defeating the TIA would be harmful to DeKalb, as a whole, and certainly does not move us forward. The fact is at the present time there are no other alternatives for addressing our transportation deficiencies. The TIA process as it stands has the potential to be a major economic generator not only for DeKalb County but for the Atlanta region as a whole. The inability to pass the TIA limits our ability to compete regionally and domestically.
It is critically important that we pass the TIA because our future economic prosperity depends upon it. Rest assured, the DeKalb Chamber will do everything possible to inform and educate the citizens of DeKalb County to ensure that decisions are based upon facts and merits.