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Fulton County transportation efforts to continue; voters extended sales tax

Johns Creek intersection project. (Image from johnscreekga.gov.)

By David Pendered

Johns Creek rebuilt a congested intersection in 2020 with proceeds of a sales tax for transportation Fulton County voters have agreed to extend.

Fulton voters on Nov. 2 extended for five years a 0.75 percent transportation special purpose local option sales tax. The $545.9 million it’s forecast to generate is to be shared among Fulton’s 14 cities, excluding Atlanta. The amounts to be distributed are based on the cities’ estimated populations in 2019. Projects were approved by each city.

Atlanta has its own transportation funding mechanisms, including a property tax to repay $250 million in bonds and a transportation sales tax of 0.5 percent that’s to sunset in March 2022.

None of the cities in North Fulton chose to use any proceeds of the sales tax to fund the construction of bus rapid transit (BRT) lanes along Ga. 400. Kevin Abel, the state Transportation Board member for North Fulton, had recommended funds be dedicated for that use in a SaportaReport guest column. Since then, the state has shelved the plan for the corridor because of costs.

In contrast to the regionally significant use of funds the BRT program would represent, the intersection project in Johns Creek is the type of mobility effort that may not rise to the level of a regional concern. It is still significant for area commuters, though.

In 2016 The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that enables Fulton to ask voters to create a sales tax for transportation that’s intended to pay for these types of projects.

The job completed by Johns Creek eased congestion and improved safety at the intersection of McGinnis Ferry and Bell road. The busy area is located about 2.5 miles west of the Chattahoochee River and 10 miles south of Buford Dam. McGinnis Ferry Road connects Fulton and Gwinnett counties with the second bridge south of the dam.

“We’re excited to have completed our first TSPLOST project and look forward to more TSPLOST project progress in Johns Creek,” Johns Creek Mayor Mike Bodker said in a statement released, complete with a video, after the ribbon-cutting ceremony on July 29, 2020.

Bodker did not seek reelection in the Nov. 2 election. Bodker was the city’s first mayor and served four terms. John Bradberry, a councilmember, was elected mayor.

The transportation sales tax that Bodker supported will continue. Fulton County voters overwhelmingly approved the referendum. The transportation sales tax was due to expire on March 31, 2022.

The campaign to continue the sales tax involved Fulton County officials and the 14 cities signing a memorandum of understanding. The Aug. 3. ceremony culminated almost a yearlong discussion over the calling of a referendum and, if it were called, projects to be included.

The project categories cited by Fulton County include:

  • $177 Million – pedestrian, bike, streetscape and landscape
  • $82.9 million – congestion relief and roadways
  • $59.2 million – maintenance and safety enhancements
  • $42.9 million – bridges
  • $17.8 million – quick response project funding

Each city selected projects within its jurisdiction. The county provided a link to overviews of each city’s list here.

The county maintains a dashboard of progress on projects funded with the existing tax. The dashboard reports a total of 426 projects. Of these, 97 percent are on schedule and 90 percent are on budget, according to the report.

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David Pendered

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.

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