ATLANTA — Whether to bring MARTA to Gwinnett County for the first time or vote it down -- that’s the decision county residents will have to make on Feb. 25th during early voting.
If the MARTA referendum is approved, Gwinnett will join Dekalb County, Fulton Count, and Clayton County with MARTA options. This will also raise the county sales tax by 1 percent.
Election Day in the county is March 19.
Alan Chapman, the Gwinnett transportation director, said the vote has been a talker in the county.
“We’ve talked to a lot of people positive on the prospect of the vote and some who are very negative as well,” Chapman said.
We talked with numerous people in the community who are split on the referendum. Some who agree, others who don’t and some Gwinnett citizens who are undecided. The county is 437 square miles.
A county spokesperson says the last time Gwinnett voted on a MARTA expansion was November 1990. The referendum was voted down.
The Gwinnett county population back in 1990 was around 350,000. Right now, the population is estimated at 974,000.
Chapman said this increase is a sign that the county needs more transportation options.
“Our population has grown a lot. Our traffic has grown a lot. Our citizens are looking for ways to get around,” he said.
The county is hosting more than a dozen open house meetings where people bring up questions and concerns.
Trina Anderson, a Gwinnett resident, says she understands some of the concerns. “A lot of people are saying they don’t want people from necessarily different areas to come in and maybe it might bring some unwanted visitors to the area. People are worried about crime and safety,” she said.
Those in favor of the referendum say it will help ease heavy traffic due to the county’s rapid growth and economic boom.