Deadlines near for public comment on mobility planning by Cobb County, ARC

By David Pendered

Next week is the final meeting for public comment on Cobb County’s proposed long-range mobility plan. The plan is to include recommendations on potential transit expansion.

chattahoochee, hiker

Cobb County is preparing a new long-range transportation plan. The existing plan helped shape the proposed Hyde Farm Trail, which will connect to an existing trail near the Chattahoochee River. File/Credit: Monica Sheppard

In addition, the Atlanta Regional Commission has a deadline of May 27. This deadline is public comments on proposed changes to ways the public can engage in the upcoming revision of the Regional Transportation Plan, the long-range planning document that outlines funding priorities for regional mobility.

CobbForward is the county’s comprehensive transportation planning effort that’s to guide mobility programs through 2050. The final meeting is scheduled for May 9.

The plan is to extend through 2050 and cover mobility matters including transit, roads, facilities for bicycling and walking, and freight considerations.

Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce urged residents to voice their preferences on the county’s comprehensive transportation plan.

“The residents of Cobb County are the key to the solution,” Boyce said in a statement about the overall plan.  “We want to give them a chance to be a part of the solution.  Five people (members of the Board of Commissioners) can formulate a product, but I’d be happier if 5,000 people or more have a voice in it.”

One issue still to be determined is the timing of a potential vote in Cobb County for a sales tax of up to 1 percent to fund the regional transit program to be created by ATL.

The Legislature created the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority in 2018 to establish a regional transit plan for a 13-county area. The plan is to coordinate existing and future transit services in those counties.

In a unique caveat for Cobb, the legislation authorized the county to create a special service district where the transit tax could be imposed. The notion was to ease the political challenge of winning passage of a countywide sales tax for transit. The deadline for a vote in a special tax district is Dec. 1.

The local legislative delegation sought to have the deadline extend, but the Legislature declined. County officials have said they don’t want to call a transit referendum before a 2020 vote on a potential special purpose local option sales tax. Legislation to extend the deadline remains pending for the 2020 legislative session.

The ARC has opened for public review and comment its proposed community engagement plan for the upcoming Regional Transportation Plan.

The proposed Regional Transportation Community Engagement Plan consists of three modules. Each is intended to provide information on specific aspects of the creation of the plan and provides information on how residents can provide input on the plan, ranging from voting in local elections to submitting comments on proposals.

The three modules are:

  • Resident’s Guide to Regional Transportation Planning;
  • A Guide to Metropolitan Planning Organization Basics;
  • Community Engagement Values, Techniques and Process.

The RTP sets priorities for transportation projects for the next 20 years in the 20-county Atlanta region. The RTP is updated every four years and covers mobility methods including roads, highways, transit and facilities for bicycling and walking.

The importance of the RTP can’t be overstated. According to the ARC:

  • “The current RTP invests over $93 billion through 2040 to maintain and improve roads, highways, transit, and bicycling/walking facilities in metro Atlanta. Nearly two-thirds of the funding will be used to maintain and modernize the region’s existing systems, while $29 billion is programmed for major expansion projects.”

Note to readers: More information about the mobility planning programs are available at ForwardCobb and the ARC’s Regional Transportation Community Engagement Plan (draft 2019 update).

 

 

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow. David was born in Pennsylvania, grew up in North Carolina and is married to a fifth-generation Atlantan.

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