Christceith Dorce of DeKalb County says if residents don’t voice their concerns to government leaders, community issues will never be addressed.
That’s why she attended one of four public information meetings for residents and businesses about proposed transportation projects in the county.
Dorce said she is concerned about the safety of pedestrians and vehicles along a stretch of South Deshon Drive between Stone Mountain Lithonia Road and Phillips Road near Lithonia. The section of road is an old, narrow street.
“Kids are constantly walking down the streets, in the streets,” Dorce said. “I don’t like that at all.”
The DeKalb County government hosted the meetings to allow residents a chance to provide input in the preparation of a list of transportation projects they would be willing to fund.
Last year, Georgia’s legislature enacted the Transportation Investment Act, which provides for a regional referendum in 2012. In this referendum, voters in the Atlanta metropolitan area will be able to vote on a penny-sales tax to fund various transportation projects, including transit, roadway, safety, bicycle and pedestrian improvements.
Each city and county in the Atlanta region has until March 30 to submit proposed projects to be considered by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) and a regional roundtable of city and county leaders. From those projects, a project list will be recommended for the 2012 referendum.
In addition to the public input meetings, DeKalb County has been coordinating with the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), GDOT, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and cities in the county to identify potential projects from existing transportation plans.
Ted Rhinehart, the county’s deputy chief operating officer for the infrastructure group, said the proposed sales tax is expected to net $7 billion over 10 years. That money would then be divided among the various transportation projects approved by voters.
DeKalb County alone has more than $3 billion in projects that it is considering during this process, Rhinehart said.
Types of projects being considered include road-widenings, safety and operational improvements such as turn signals and lanes; transit service; bicycle and pedestrian lanes and sidewalks; bridge upgrades and street resurfacing.
The vast majority of the projects on DeKalb’s list are for sidewalks, Rhinehart said.
A sampling of the high-ticket items on DeKalb’s list include: sidewalks along Covington Highway from Margarette Road to Panola Road, $8.1 million; county-wide multi-use trails, $10 million; sidewalks, upgraded crosswalks, and street furniture along a 1.2-mile stretch of Northlake Parkway, $1.12 million; on-street bike lanes on Stone Mountain Lithonia Road, $15.5 million; county-wide road resurfacing, $100 million.
Additionally, MARTA is proposing the construction of a light rail project along I-20 from Atlanta to Stonecrest Mall at a cost of $1.35 billion. Another proposed $465-million light rail project would run from Decatur to the Lindberg MARTA station in Atlanta.