By Maria Saporta
One of the groups pushing for passage of the one-percent regional transportation sales tax — Citizens for Transportation Mobility — has “registered disappointment and dismay” with the Sierra Club’s Georgia Chapter decision to oppose the tax.
“We find it highly unusual that an organization charged with preserving and protecting our environment would oppose a transportation investment that has the potential to do exactly that,” Che Watkins, campaign manager for CTM, said in a statement. “The regional transportation referendum holds more promise of relieving congestion and reducing air pollution than any plan in decades.”
The organization, which advocates for more transit options in the region, cited “sprawl-inducing road expansion” as a major reason for its opposition. And yet, supporters believe the July 31 referendum provides unprecedented transportation options for metro Atlanta commuters, and holds the most promise for relieving air pollution, excessive tailpipe emissions and other environmental damage caused by traffic congestion.
“If the Sierra Club has its way,” said Watkins, “more harm will be done to the environment as the state continues to fund roads to the exclusion of transit. This plan generates one-third of public funding in the region for transit,” Watkins said. “Any organization that supports the environment would support this plan.”
With both supporters and opponents of transit taking aim at the $8.5 billion project list, Watkins noted that it was obvious they had struck the right balance between roads and transit.
“The one-sided supporters on either side – roads or transit – must acknowledge that the region needs a healthy mix of both to relieve congestion and give commuters options to get to home and work quicker,” she said.