Down to the wire for T-SPLOST votes

6:12 PM, Jul 30, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA -- Tuesday's transportation sales tax vote is one of the biggest issues ever put to the voters of the 10 county metro region.

It's also one of the most bipartisan battles in Atlanta history, with opponents across the political spectrum on BOTH sides.

MORE | Complete TSPLOST list and 11Alive special debate

It's a David versus Goliath battle with grassroots opponents being outspent nearly five-hundred-to-one by Chamber of Commerce backed supporters.

Both sides made a last minute appeal on Monday for votes.

Supporters held one of their largest rallies ever at the State Capitol.

Lead by Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, they claimed there's something for everyone in the T-SPLOST project list: $ 3.2-billion for roads and $ 3.4-billion for transit over the next decade.

Supporters promised the projects will reduce congestion and create jobs.

They also claimed they're not discouraged by several polls that predict the tax will lose.

"If I get scarred up or hurt a little bit, I tell you what, I told you I don't sit around reading polls; I got elected to change polls," said Mayor Reed.

Just a few minutes later, opponents held a much smaller, but no less passionate, rally on the other side of the Capitol building.

Like T-SPLOST supporters, they agree that something needs to be done about Atlanta's traffic snarls.

But they claim the list of projects the 10 year tax would fund is flawed...that it's loaded down with pork that will not help commuters or will take years to build with no plans to fund them in the future.

"We as taxpayers and voters, unhappy ones at that, cannot afford another political mistake; we need for you to go back to the drawing table and come back with a viable solution," said opponent Viola Davis.

Despite being outspent, opponents are encouraged by opinion polls that predict T-SPLOST will fail.

"You look at the polls, they're losing in all the polls and the reason is because they only have $8-million; we have the truth," claimed Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown.

Atlanta Regional Commission Chairman Tad Leithead pointed to a record number of early voters, but admitted no one knows how they voted.

"What I've been saying all along is do you believe we'll make a bigger difference in traffic if we invest 8.5-billion over the next ten years, or if we invest zero?" he added.

Supporters claim the project list, no matter how imperfect, is crucial to the region's economic future.

If the tax is voted down in any of 12 different regions across the state, it would be at least two more years before that region could vote on it again.

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