Maran: metro Atlanta needs voice at state

Solutions, including new transportation funding, must be found to relieve this region of congestion, says Jim Maran, president of the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce.

Maran, and several of his Gwinnett colleages, met with the staff of the Atlanta Business Chronicle this morning to talk about economic development and the county’s views toward the region.

The conversation kept returning to transportation. And Maran voiced a concern that many in the metro have about Gov. Sonny Perdue’s possible restructuring of the state’s main transportation agencies.

A draft of the plan was leaked to the press last week that stated that a new transportation authority would have a seven-member board — three appointed by Perdue, two appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and two appointed by House Speaker Glenn Richardson.

“You could have everyone on that governance board from outside of Atlanta,” Maran said. “Representation from metro Atlanta is key to us.”

Maran said Gwinnett is on record of supporting a “solid multimodal transportation system,” and such a system must include transit. He said Gwinnett leaders have traveled to many other major cities in the country, and most are far ahead of metro Atlanta in having an extensive transit network.

“We are 100 percent behind transit,” he said.

But if the governor’s plan to restructure the transportation agencies remains as proposed, it is possible that people with little understanding of transit and urban congestion would be making the decisions.

Maran said what’s most important is that there’s fair representation from the Atlanta region, where area in the state with the greatest transportation headaches.

“The important questions are: ‘Where is the tax digest, and where is the population?'” Maran said.

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.

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