In a display of solidarity, DeKalb County leaders stood together to protest the exclusion of the proposed I-20 transit rail system from a preliminary list of projects being considered for funding through a possible regional sales tax.
“It is very important and imperative that we have a voice in making sure that the I-20 corridor is respected and protected,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson during the Aug. 9 press conference and rally.
“We believe that if we don’t have rail, we can’t support that additional penny,” Johnson said.
The rally was in response to a recent decision by the executive committee of the Atlanta area Regional Transportation Roundtable to remove the I-20 transit rail system from the project list.
The proposed I-20 project would extend the MARTA rail system from the Indian Creek station to the Wesley Chapel area for a cost of approximately $522 million.
“At one point the I-20 corridor was considered the top-rated area by the ARC [Atlanta Regional Commission],” said Georgia State Sen. Ronald Ramsey (D-43). “How it could go from the top-rated spot to not a place at the table at all …is inconceivable and it is unacceptable.”
Enacted last year by Georgia’s legislature, the Transportation Investment Act (HB 277) provides for regional referendums in 2012 in which residents will be able to vote on a penny-sales tax to fund various transportation projects, including transit, roadway, safety, bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
A major part of regional transportation planning in the Atlanta metropolitan area has been geared toward improving and expanding the MARTA system.