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Georgia DOT releases draft criteria for new metro transportation projects

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.

Here is the link to view the Draft Criteria for the Atlanta 10-county Special Tax District.

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Dose of Reality August 9, 2010 4:55 pm

    The 20-50% road spend requirement seriously weakens the effectiveness, and potentially even the passage of the tax. Roads already have a dedicated source of funding in Georgia. Why must this tax allocate even more money away from the transportation alternatives people want?Report

  2. BPJ August 9, 2010 5:44 pm

    Yes, the minimum % for transit capital should be 20%, and the minimum % for transit operations should be at least 10%.Report

  3. Burroughston Broch August 10, 2010 6:42 am

    Which local/regional transportation groups, all demanding tax money, will this group replace? None – all of the added taxes go to GDOT, which has proved its incompetence and disregard for the public. Reform GDOT first, then let’s review this proposal.Report

  4. Ben The Independent August 10, 2010 10:28 am

    MARTA should be taken over by the state and expanded to a metro transit system. As long as MARTA is controlled by Atlanta politics, metro support will be greatly reduced.Report

  5. Dose of Reality August 11, 2010 5:46 pm

    “MARTA should be taken over by the state and expanded to a metro transit system. As long as MARTA is controlled by Atlanta politics, metro support will be greatly reduced.”

    Or, the state could provide financial assistance to MARTA to go along with its already burdensome and draconian oversight that dictate MARTA’s spending and flexibility. It wouldn’t be such a novel idea for a state to provide funding to its largest city’s transit system – it already happens in nearly every other example in the country today (including all Atlanta’s chief competitors). For the state to have oversight without also contributing financially seems severely un-American. Oh where are the Tea Partiers when we really need them.Report

  6. Art August 11, 2010 9:30 pm

    “Dose of reality”…….

    You are right on the money! It’s not management fully, it’s the backward system that transit has operated under in the most recent past that has NOT supported transportation with an eye toward the future……..Report


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