From Patch Reports
President Sam Massell, in an article written for The Atanta Journal-Constitution's Atlanta Forward page Tuesday, said the 1-cent regional transportation tax will bring major improvements to Buckhead and the region's transit system.
Among other projects, Massell cited the $50 million in improvements for Roswell and Piedmont roads from the Atlanta-Sandy Springs city limits to the Lindbergh station, and Clifton Corridor Transit, a rail link between the Lindbergh Station and Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control for which $700 million is committed in the .
In an accomanying article on the AJC's opinion page, John Sherman, president of the Fulton County Taxpayers' Foundation, called for a professional feasibility study on the Lindbergh-Emory rail line.
Here is Massell's article, e-mailed to Buckhead Patch after its publication in the AJC. An acompaning biographical note says tht Massell, as Atlanta's mayor from 1970 to 1974, structured the 1 percent sales tax funding to win the MARTA referendum.
"Transportation is more than a dollars and cents proposition, and is more than a statistic on a graph. It is mobility — this fifth freedom — a social concept, if you wish, for which the benefits cannot be measured with numbers. They must be personally evaluated — by people.
The greater the growth and prosperity of a city, the greater the deprivation imposed upon those who are without satisfactory means of transportation. As a community expands geographically and as society expands culturally — as more and more facilities are provided by government and private enterprise to the benefit of the general public, the more absolute is the imprisonment of those who lack mobility.
Yes, I’m addressing the benefits of mass transit — safe, clean, and dependable rail and bus service; the benefits of appropriate roadways — efficient turn lanes, synchronized traffic lights, and adequate signage; the benefits of connectivity — reasonable ways to get from point A to point B in a relaxed state of mind, and the related referendum scheduled for July.
My first paragraph, however, is quoted from a speech I made in 1971 as mayor of Atlanta, in Pittsburgh, to the international Conference on Urban Transportation. It was about our planned referendum on MARTA for mobility needed 40 years ago. The vote for part of the route passed, and traffic congestion was reduced on several major arteries brought about by substitution of a modern rail and bus system — by a 1-percent sales tax — for privately driven automobiles.
Our “region” then consisted of five counties with slightly over 800,000 registered motor vehicles. Time marches on, and we have grown to a region of 10 counties with 3,205,461 vehicles, and congestion is back, and what we espoused then holds true again today, and needs public support. But, it’s understandable that when asked to vote yourself a tax, it’s reasonable to ask “what do I get in return?”
It is important that we see the big picture — the region, if you wish, as you can be certain that its image affects decisions of individuals and businesses when considering relocation. If rankings for the region are favorable, you can count on positive impact on the parts within. The Buckhead Coalition, which represents only a very small segment of the region, is on record as endorsing the referendum. This community is the center of the 10-county area, and finds itself in charge of safe and comfortable mobility for those traveling through as well as for those residing within.
With $50 million committed for roadway and transit improvements on Piedmont and Roswell roads from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Sandy Springs city limits, one of Buckhead’s most congested arteries will be greatly improved. Add to that $1.7 million in improvements earmarked for Peachtree Road, plus $525,375 in roadwork on Northside Drive through Buckhead, and the quality of life of the many automobile drivers who live in or visit this community will greatly benefit.
Perhaps the impact of greatest magnitude on sustainability of the economic health of Buckhead included in this Transportation Investment Act is the little talked about Clifton Corridor Transit (MARTA rail service between Buckhead’s Lindbergh Station and Emory University / Centers for Disease Control), at a total funding commitment of $700 million.
The east/west corridor, traversing these two major population centers of the city of Atlanta and the county of DeKalb, is presently one of the least efficient connectors in the metropolitan region. To provide rail transportation between these two destinations, connecting Atlanta’s major Buckhead community and DeKalb’s major Emory community, is expected to generate dynamic and dense rail patronage, predicted to reach a 2.6 million annual ridership within a couple of years of completion.
The overall economic impact of the university on Atlanta is more than $5.1 billion a year. Emory’s president, Jim Wagner, states “Innovation and creativity are vital to building a 21st century economy that will be able to provide job opportunities for generations to come.” The economic impact of this particular improvement should pay us back the penny sales tax many times over.
With our current limited two-lane Lindbergh/LaVista connection, this is a prime example of two influential communities that can be expected to meld with such a long missing handshake.
With three MARTA stations in Buckhead, with a total current ridership of 4.8 million the various other MARTA improvements totaling $1.4 billion will benefit the present riders and is expected to attract new patrons, also to Buckhead’s benefit.
These facts are rather impressive, but, as I said 40 years ago, “transportation is more than a dollars and cents proposition, and is more than a statistic on a graph. It is mobility — this fifth freedom.”'