Voters in the Atlanta region have the opportunity to pass a referendum on July 31 that would raise $8.5 billion through a one percent sales tax to fund transportation projects across the region.
Based on the list of priority transportation improvements developed by a Regional Transportation Roundtable of local officials, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and a team of economists have completed an initial analysis and forecast of the economic impacts of the 2012 Regional Transportation Referendum’s passage and build-out.
The economic benefits expected to accrue through 2040 include the following, if the referendum passes:
• 4 to 1 return on investment – The $8.5 billion investment in 157 projects will result in an estimated $34.8 billion increase in gross regional product in the Atlanta region by 2040.
• 200,000 additional jobs supported – The analysis indicates that the transportation investment will create or support an additional 200,000 job years, including jobs that are maintained year-over-year.
• Almost two-thirds of those jobs will be in mid-to-high paying job sectors.
• The construction sector was hardest hit by the recession. The referendum would lead to the creation and support of 34,000 jobs in this critical sector by 2040.
• $9.2 billion in travel time savings – The average metro Atlanta commuter spends $924 each year sitting in traffic. Collectively, these projects would allow residents to save $9.2 billion by 2040.
• $18 billion increase in personal income – Due to the travel time savings and reduced fuel costs, incomes around the region will increase a collective $18 billion by 2040.
Metro Atlanta faces a transportation funding crisis. Revenues from gas taxes, the primary source of federal and state funding, are declining as cars become more fuel efficient. In fact, 70 percent of the region’s transportation funding will be spent to simply maintain the existing roads and systems over the next 30 years, leaving little room for expansion. This means that, as the region grows, congestion will worsen unless adequate investments are made.
It’s no secret that metro Atlanta is in the midst of a transportation crisis. We are the third fastest-growing region in the United States, but Georgia ranks 49th in per capita investment in transportation.
I signed on as Chairman of Citizens for Transportation Mobility, which will advocate for passage of metro Atlanta’s regional transportation referendum on July 31, 2012 because I wanted to help bring a solution to metro Atlanta’s transportation crisis.
One of the strongest reasons for supporting the regional transportation referendum is job creation. Our economy has suffered greatly over the last few years and companies and individuals across this region are waiting to get to work. Repairing our infrastructure, renovating our road systems and building new rail lines will put our citizens back to work and, at the same time, increase our workers’ access to jobs.
Atlanta has a proud regional history of bold investments in world-class transportation systems. One only has to think of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to realize how powerfully bold investments can pay off. But world-class transportation cannot just be part of our history; it must be part of our future, and who we become. Today we are being outpaced by North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Virginia with their future-looking transportation plans. We cannot stand by as thousands of unemployed Georgians watch in frustration as businesses chose to locate in other states.
During the unprecedented public input process to select the final project list, our citizens said they wanted a balanced, forward-looking mix of projects, well-distributed around our region. They want accountability and efficiency. The final list delivers all of that. Our citizens know that the right balance of roads, transit, new projects and maintenance are all part of a healthy mix that will relieve traffic congestion and advance our region.
While job creation and retention are vital, our citizens also know that getting home on-time for dinner, getting to their place of worship on-time, and not missing their children’s soccer game are also of utmost importance. Time stuck in traffic is time lost forever. Memories aren’t made on highways; they are made at home. Residents are smart about these things.
For years, my career has allowed me to share in the joy of providing Georgians a place to call home – a place to take advantage of all this region has to offer and return to after a long day’s work. Our company has benefited greatly from the growth and dynamism of metro Atlanta. Lately, our economy has been tested in ways we never could have imagined. Since we have shared in the fruits of the region, we also know that we have a shared responsibility to be part of ensuring its ongoing prosperity.
It is true in business and in life that a sound investment provides a sound return. Investing in our region’s future is not only wise, but will be what sets us apart from the pack and will spur the recovery our region so desperately needs.
David P. Stockert
President, CEO Post Properties