Pro-transportation tax folks express dismay at Sierra Club’s opposition

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.

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.

2 replies
  1. inatl says:

    “holds the most promise for relieving air pollution, excessive tailpipe emissions and other environmental damage caused by traffic congestion.” Are they trying to say that building more roads is good for the environment because it reduces tailpipe emissions? They tried that in the 90’s. Besides the old you can’t pave your way out of congestion issue (induced demand) free flowing highways actually cause more Ozone Precursors to be emitted by cars than non free flowing highways. That’s part of the reason we couldn’t get around the road freeze of the 90’s that was caused by our exceedance of Ozone levels. Adding lanes does NOT clean the air. Besides using hyperbole… “dismay” …. Che Watkins and the business/developer group CTM are just flat out factually incorrect!    At least they didn’t call for clear cutting the region’s trees to save the environment.Report

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  2. ScottNAtlanta says:

     The Sierra Club is undermining the best chance of getting ANY transit financing. Sometimes you have to compromise. Trust me, I would love for there to be 100% transit funding for this tax. I would LOVE to make people outside of Fulton and Dekalb pay us for the use of all the infrastructure that we have spent the last 40 years shouldering ourselves, but the simple truth is with the crooks we all so willingly re-elect at the state house…these things are not going to happen. This is NOT Seattle and facts never seem to matter to anyone these days. If you think that if this goes down that the state legislature is going to magically come up with a solution when they’ve basically punted for the last five years only to absolve themselves by making the voters (who are mostly ill informed) pass their own funding is fantasy. Unfortunately we cant rely on facts and the Sierra Club should know better. 11.43% of commuters use transit and pushing even 5% of that back onto roads would be catastrophic to traffic here…and if this fails and the 50/50 MARTA penalty persists, MARTA will once again face draconian cutbacks at a time when they should be massively increasing service. MARTA is one of the most efficiently run systems in the county…and the Sierra Club wants to kill it just to make a point. Unfortunately, that point is they are utterly detached from the reality that is GeorgiaReport

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