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FAQ: Transportation Investment Act

6:26 AM, Jul 10, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- With the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) vote coming on July 31st, we put together this basic primer on what the act contains and what the tax would mean for metro Atlantans.

Who is voting on the Transportation Investment Act?

All Georgians will vote on the act, but they will do so by region; they will be divided into 13 regions that will each vote separately. Thus, the TIA could pass in one region, which would then reap the financial benefits of the tax, and fail in another region, which would then not have access to the tax earnings.

The majority of counties in metro Atlanta will vote in Region 3, which consists of Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, and Rockdale counties.

RELATED | Map of regions

What specifically are people voting on?

Voters will be saying 'yay' or 'nay' to a penny sales tax that would go towards transportation projects in their respective regions. The tax would last 10 years, at which point voters would need to approve it again.

How much money is at stake in the metro Atlanta region?

Revenue estimates say the region would receive nearly $8.5 billion over the next 10 years. Of that, 85% -- or approximately $7.2 billion -- would go toward the list of regional projects that have already been approved. The other 15% -- or roughly $1.27 billion -- would be redistributed to the cities and counties that comprise the region; however, that money would be divided according to population and roadway mileage, not how much each county raises from the tax.

RELATED | Breakdown from Atlanta Regional Roundtable

Where is the final list of approved projects?

The Atlanta Regional Roundtable published its final list of approved projects at this link. More than 50% of the money goes toward new transit projects; the rest goes toward road projects.

Would voters have a say in whether the tax would be continued after this first 10-year period?

Many have concerns that they would be left without say, similar to what happened several years ago with the GA 400 tolls. In that situation, the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) had the authority to vote to extend the tolls. In this case, the transportation tax can only be extended by the voters saying so -- in a ballot issue like what will occur July 31st.

However, opponents of the TIA say voters are essentially being trapped. They point to several examples of projects that are only being partially covered by the current proposal and will require more funding after the 10 years are over. They say voters will basically be forced into re-upping the tax 10 years from now.

How would the transportation tax affect MARTA?

With so much of the Atlanta regional tax going toward new transit, the focus has centered on MARTA, which is planning a Clifton Corridor rail line from Lindbergh to Emory and an I-20 East transit initiative.

So, what are the main arguments in favor and against the Transportation Investment Act?

Proponents say a serious transportation investment is long overdue in metro Atlanta. With the area's population continuing to expand, traffic and congestion are costing the area and its citizens -- not to mention making the region less desirable for businesses.

Those who oppose TIA have various reasons. Many acknowledge the aforementioned transportation issues but feel the list of projects doesn't do enough to solve the problem. Others simply don't want another tax being placed on the citizens during a rough economic period.

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