The first Friday morning of every month, the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable convenes — one of the best grassroots, community-building events in town.
The topic this month was transportation in Georgia, and I was fortunate enough to serve as moderator of a great panel.
The panel: Cheryl King, MARTA’s assistant general manager of planning and transit system development; Tad Liethead, a senior vice president of Cousins Properties who chairs the Transportation and Air Quality Committee for the Atlanta Regional Commission; and Kevin Green, executive director of the Clean Air Campaign.
As moderator, during the program I write down noteworthy comments from the panel and the audience. At the end of the discussion, I provide a recap of what was said (without attribution).
So here is that recap of key points in our Friday discussion:
“Atlanta no longer is the crown jewel of the Southeast because of traffic.”
“We need dedicated funding for transit.”
“May 1 is the first day of smog season, and half of our emissions comes from cars and trucks.”
“In 10 years, we have made no progress. Right now ARC, GRTA, MARTA, GDOT, SRTA are cooperating. But we have run out of money.”
“We are in a crisis situation.”
“We don’t have our collective act together.”
“The logjam is at the state level.”
“When all was said and done, a lot was said and little got done.”
“The IT3 (Investing in Tomorrow’s Transportation Today) recommended a three-pronged approach — more money, demand management and the coordination of transportation investments with good land use.”
“Instead of promoting IT3’s recommendation, the governor proposed to totally reorganize transportation agencies.”
“We need to keep pressure on elected officials.”
“IT3 really was a breath of fresh air.”
“There have been years and years of mistrust of MARTA at the state.”
“MARTA was left hanging at the last legislative session.”
“Perception of MARTA has little or nothing to do with reality.”
“Remember when Atlanta could do anything? Now we can’t do anything.”
“North Carolina’s governor took the lead in transportation.”
“How did we get from where we were to where we are? Transportation has become a partisan issue. How did that happen?
“Instead of having transit-oriented development, metro Atlanta has had car-oriented development.”
“We need to provide transportation choice.s”
“Can you imagine what would happen if we had a governor who liked trains rather than fish.”
“We need to communicate throughout the whole state.”
Now some of my closing thoughts.
When possible need to take regional control and seek state support. The transit Planning Board provides a pathway for new regional transit governance. Georgia needs a state rail plan, and MARTA can provide professional expertise.
New state elections will change the current dynamics. With ARC Chairman/Cobb Chairman Sam Olens running for Attorney General, what are the implications for region?
What happens now? Will our region say: “We’re mad as hell and we won’t take it anymore” or will we just continue to plan and wait, hoping for action.