My day job involves advancing prosperity and quality of life in the core of the Atlanta region. But I’m also a full-time parent of three teenagers. When it comes to issues like regional transportation, I see no separation of the priorities of my profession and that of my responsibility to younger and future generations, including my own kids.
I am convinced that the critical decisions that affect businesses in metro Atlanta today will also make a tremendous impact on whether or not they grow up and decide to do what many of you and I have done: choose Atlanta, as a place to live, work and raise a family.
The July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum provides us an opportunity to address many of the traffic issues that plague Atlanta residents and to provide new transportation options for workers and families. For our economy, it means the opportunity to support over 200,000 jobs, while attracting and retaining companies and the talented workforce on which they depend.
For my kids, projects like the Atlanta BeltLine and the Atlanta Streetcar will mean that the lifestyles of access to great amenities and connectivity that their generation clearly demands will be flourishing right here when they begin their careers. It means that the centers of employment where they may seek jobs will be more likely to be thriving, still hosting some of the world’s top companies, growing businesses, new startups, and civic organizations.
Without making investments like 157 projects designated for $8.5 billion in funding through a 1 penny sales tax in this referendum, we take an enormous risk in allowing those opportunities—and other regions—to pass us by.
This is a game changer for Atlanta. Today, our roads are seriously outdated for the volume of traffic they now carry. The gas tax that has funded transportation can no longer keep up with the demands of repair, not to mention the investments in new infrastructure needed to support a 21st century economy.
At the same time, the public’s attitude regarding transportation has evolved. What was anathema to people 20 years ago is expected and desirable to many metro Atlanta residents who are drawn to transit oriented, walkable, and mixed-use communities. If we are fortunate enough that our children wish to live nearby as adults, we can be assured that this is the type of Atlanta they will demand.
The down economy and global financial woes have walloped the metro area. Atlanta is still struggling to recover. Most of us do not want to see higher taxes; but, this is a case where we have to look at this penny as not a tax but an investment in our region’s essential infrastructure and economic development needs—just as we would invest in a new factory for our business or a new roof for our home.
A “yes” vote on the referendum is not just about the transportation improvements that will make our lives easier and our region more prosperous over the next decade. It’s about making sure that the Atlanta of the 21st century is one that our children and their children are willing to also say “yes” to. Please join me and bring your family, friends, and colleagues to the polls on July 31.
For more information on the Regional Transportation Referendum and your early voting options, please visit www.untieatlanta.com and click on the “Vote Yes” button.
For the past nine years, A.J. Robinson has served as president of Central Atlanta Progress (CAP) and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District (ADID), overseeing these influential civic organizations dedicated to maintaining a safe, vibrant and economically robust downtown neighborhood that positively impacts the city of Atlanta.