Why am I not surprised by this? This was DOA and anyone with half a brain knew it. No one on that roundtable was interested in helping marginal folks in South DeKalb. Whats worse is that the member we had who was suppose to look out for our interest caved. CEO Ellis made a bold statement wanting to yank funding from the GA400/I285 area, but I bet he knew that was going nowhere and can hide behind the fact that he did offer up an alternative. It pisses me off that I have to live North of the Stone Mountain Freeway to get decent schools, decent roads, clean streets and transportation alternatives. We are a marginalized people who are being asked to give 1 cent of every dollar spent here to citizens in Cobb who don’t even want rail and have historically been downright hostile to it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is just redistribution in the other direction. Take our tax dollars and spend them on projects that people don’t want just because they can. If they rely on my vote to help pass it, then we all we be stuck in 20th century transportation options.
I attended the last of the community meetings that MARTA was having to discuss the I-20 corridor last night, and came away with the following observations
There are three options on the table for better transit in south DeKalb; Heavy rail, Light Rail, and Bus Rapid Transit. I prefer a light rail alternative that will ferry folks within the corridor and connect to an existing MARTA rail station or a yet to be constructed multi-modal terminal in downtown.
There have been three studies that concentrated on the I-20 corridor in the past ten years. All three have been shelved. There have been an additional four studies that involved South DeKalb in one way or another in the last ten years. None have been acted on, and this study, though using some data from previous studies, will basically start over from scratch. I have to wonder whether anything will become of this latest study.
There are nearly 400,000 people in the corridor. In twenty years that number is projected to grow 26%. Sorry folks, but a few buses traveling the main roads is not going to cut it. Also, MARTA rail stations tend to bring positive development to areas in which they are located. You want to see better development opportunities in South DeKalb, improve the transit options.
A lot of the folk in the meeting were quite passionate about transit in the area. Many in attendance wanted better options for travel not only in South DeKalb, but to other areas of the metro. Most favored a light rail system when asked to vote on an option. That tells me people are aware of the realities of bringing rail to south DeKalb. Heavy rail will never come to south DeKalb. So we must look at other options the next best thing is Light rail. It costs less than heavy rail, but can carry more people than BRT systems. Also, it would be nice to see the regions first light rail implemented in South DeKalb.
This study is just that, a study. What many folks do not know is that this study has to make it onto a list of regional transit options that will be funded by an additional 1 cent sales tax on people. The sales tax referendum isn’t scheduled until the 2012 elections. Even if that passes, there is no guarantee that this project gets on the list. In short, the project has to be considered doable to make the list, then funding must be approved via this vote. I am a pessimist and my pessimistic nature tells me not to get my hopes up too high. There are other areas who will be pushing their own transportation projects, and many of those areas are much more politically connected than South DeKalb. If this thing happens I will be pleasantly surprised. It might even add a bit of optimism to my pessimistic outlook on this whole transit thing.
Finally, in addition to MARTA big wigs, there were a couple of surprise faces in the crowd. I was surprised to see School board member Zepora Roberts in attendance. Roberts, who could be ex-board member Roberts next week, was very vocal and passionate about transit in the area. Like many in the audience she was skeptical of the chances that transit will come to I-20 anytime soon. Also in attendance was 4th district candidate Liz Carter. She says she has been to each of the meetings held in the corridor. Since I have only been to one of the meetings, I can’t verify that but Carter has been very visible in South DeKalb during this race. Far More visible than Hank Johnson, or some of our local elected officials. Say what you want about Carter and her party representation, but she seems to have a genuine concern about what goes on in the district
MARTA is holding public meetings to discuss the horrific traffic in the I-20 corridor in South DeKalb. We all know that a transportation upgrade is needed in this part of the metro. Capacity has reached a critical stage especially during rush hours and on weekends. That traffic overflows onto surface streets and there is little you can do but wait it out. I don’t see heavy rail coming anytime soon, but I hope they can bring some alternative to driving. What they should have is a light rail system that travels along I-20 from Stonecrest, perhaps linking with MARTA stations on the east line or even downtown. It would be quicker and less expensive to implement and would remove vehicles from the road. Here is the press release from MARTA:
MARTA Invites Community to Public Meetings to Discuss Potential I-20 East Corridor Transit Improvements
ATLANTA – MARTA invites the community to participate in upcoming public meetings to discuss potential transit improvements in the I-20 East corridor from downtown Atlanta to the Mall at Stonecrest in eastern DeKalb County. MARTA, in partnership with DeKalb County and the Federal Transit Administration, is conducting the I-20 East Transit Initiative to address limited travel options and high levels of delay and congestion along this corridor. The study will identify transit investments that will enhance east-west mobility and improve accessibility to residential areas and employment centers in this area.
The community is invited to attend all three public meetings, which will be held from 6 to 8 p.m., to learn more about the project and initial study findings, speak to project team staff members, and provide their input regarding transportation needs within the corridor and the study goals and objectives.
- Tuesday, October 26
DeKalb Medical Center Hillandale – Community Room
2801 DeKalb Medical Parkway
Lithonia, GA 30058
- Wednesday, October 27
East Lake YMCA – Community Room
275 East Lake Boulevard
Atlanta, GA 30317
- Thursday, October 28
South DeKalb Mall – Community Room
2801 Candler Road
Decatur, GA 30034
An open house will be held during the first hour to give community members the opportunity to speak one-on-one with MARTA representatives. At 7 p.m., MARTA will begin a formal presentation and question/answer session. The same information will be presented at each meeting.
For more information on the project, please visit our website www.itsmarta.com/I20-east-corr.aspx