By Maria Saporta
If approved by voters in 2012, it is expected that the sales tax would generate about $7 billion over its 10-year life span. So the big test will be how those $7 billion will be invested.
The framework for making those decisions is beginning to come light.
On Thursday, Todd Long, director of planning for the Georgia Department of Transportation, released the “draft” criteria that will be considered in coming up with the project list.
People need to keep in mind that the sales tax will only raise about one-tenth of the money that the region estimates is needed to meet most of transportation needs.
The Regional Transit Committee has estimated that it would cost about $55 billion just to implement a metrowide transit plan as outlined in Concept 3.
So the tug-of-war of how that money will be divided will keep everyone busy between now and next year, when that project list is expected to be presented to the public.
At the Sustainable Atlanta Roundtable meeting Friday morning, Long summarized the criteria that is being put in place.
“The projects have to be strategic in nature,” Long said as part of a panel discussion on Georgia’s Transportation Future. “The projects have to be deliverable in the period of the tax. And projects have to be appealing to the public.”
The criteria also puts together a minimum and maximum range of what can be spent on road, transit and other transportation projects. For example, the range for roadway capital is between 20 to 50 percent. The range for transit capital is between 10 and 40 percent. The range for transit operations and maintenance is between 5 and 20 percent.
The balance would be spent on safety, traffic operations, freight and logistics, non-motorized transportation, aviation and roadway and bridge maintenance.
In other words, according to the criteria, the share that transit could get is as low as 15 percent and as high as 60 percent.