DeKalb’s transportation wish lists cut to 33 projects

The list has been narrowed and DeKalb County won’t be getting $91 million to resurface its streets. And there won’t be $41 million for a proposed Sidewalk Transit Connectivity Program.
In all, 28 projects were deleted from the wish lists of county and city officials in DeKalb County.
But there’s still a chance for $76.6 million in road improvements— sidewalks, bike lanes, traffic signal upgrades and resurfacing—for Covington Highway from I-285 East to Turner Hill Road.
The Covington Highway improvement survived a cut by the state Department of Transportation. If it survives the final vote by the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable in October, the project will be on a list that will go to voters next year.
The regional roundtable consists of a city and county representative for 10 counties: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale. Representing DeKalb County are CEO Burrell Ellis and Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is also a member of the group.
Last year, Georgia’s legislature enacted the Transportation Investment Act (HB 277), which provides for regional referendums in 2012. As a result of 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.
The sales tax is expected to generate approximately $8 billion in revenue.
Commissioner Jeff Rader, a member of the Joint Fulton-DeKalb Transportation Committee, said the current list is still three times too long and will be reduced significantly.
Convincing voters in Fulton and DeKalb counties, which already have a penny sales tax that supports MARTA, will be a tough sell. Rader said he believes that if Fulton and DeKalb do not vote in favor of the referendum, it will not pass.
“We’ll be paying two cents for transportation,” Rader said. “There’s been nothing done to address that inequity.”
In addition to the possible transportation tax, DeKalb voters are facing tax increases by DeKalb County and the school district.
“There are other competing demands for the taxpayers’ money,” Rader said.
So far there are 33 projects on the unconstrained list for DeKalb County and its municipalities. Some of the projects include:
• Panola Road from Snapfinger Road to Covington Highway—widening and corridor improvements, $70.4 million.
• North Druid Hills Road connector from Buford Highway to Lawrenceville Highway—corridor improvements, $57.9 million.
• Buford Hwy/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard connector—new alignment, $48.5 million.
• Bouldercrest Road from I-285 South to Linecrest Road—widening, $34.1 million.
• Mt. Vernon Road from Fulton County line to Dunwoody Club Drive—corridor improvements, $20 million.
• Mountain View Road from Memorial Drive to Sheppard Road—sidewalks, $1.3 million.

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