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ATL Mayor: Cities Can Solve Nation's Transportation Problem

Less than a week before the Winter Storm Leon debacle, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed writes a blog saying, "I believe the future of solving much of our nation's transportation problems lies within the vision and leadership we find in our cities."

"I believe that Atlanta has been particularly innovative in its approach to transportation." - Mayor Reed. Credit: Patch file
"I believe that Atlanta has been particularly innovative in its approach to transportation." - Mayor Reed. Credit: Patch file
The following is a blog post on Patch's sister sites, Huffington Post and BlackVoices, which was written by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.  

The article from the mayor, which was posted six days before Winter Storm Leon brought metro Atlanta to a frozen standstill, is titled: 'Cities Can Solve Our Nation's Transportation Problem'

As a Mayor, I can assure you that nothing is more important than investment in our water and transportation systems. Increasingly, our success as a nation depends on how we address our transportation and other infrastructure needs in our metropolitan areas. As Congress prepares for renewal of the federal surface transportation law in October, we must work together to expand our current levels of investment and avoid simply flat-lining these commitments.


According to a July 2012 report, U.S. Metro Economies: Outlook - Gross Metropolitan Product, and Critical Role of Transportation Infrastructure, we have found that over the next 30 years, metropolitan areas will grow by 84 million people. As one of the fastest growing metropolitan regions in the nation, Atlanta's population is projected to grow by 67.8 percent from 2012 - 2042. It is hard to fathom how a constant or declining federal commitment will ensure that America reaps all of the potential economic growth in competition with regional economies worldwide.


Under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act(P.L. 112-141) (MAP-21), our federal government has made important policy reforms by consolidating programs, improving project delivery, providing for greater accountability, and assisting project sponsors with more financing options. But we have yet to address the demands of an increasingly metropolitan American economy and the calls from local officials who seek greater empowerment in deciding how transportation dollars are invested.


We must strive to get all partners - federal, state, regional, local governments, private entities and the public - to the transportation decision-making table, instead of pretending that concentrating power with state transportation bureaucracies is the solution, especially in a nation which continues to concentrate more of its economic future in its metropolitan areas.


In Atlanta, our principal transit system - MARTA - is the ninth largest in the country, and our highway system is one of the best-maintained in the nation. There is no dearth of ideas and innovation for dealing with the challenges of growth and transportation in Atlanta, yet we continue to have some of the most significant congestion in the nation - largely because of a mismatch of resources to our needs.


The Atlanta Regional Commission just released recommendations for an update of our Regional Transportation Plan. The vision outlined in those recommendations would cost $123 billion to the year 2040 - yet we have available only about $59 billion during that period. An overwhelming 71% of all available funds will go to the maintenance of the existing system.


As a region, we will target our projects more carefully. Emphasis will be placed on travel demand management programs, basic bridge and road maintenance, safety projects, innovation in roadway design and cost-effective transit projects. We will focus our investments on our regional freight network, which will become even more important as international freight increases through the Port of Savannah.


Cities are the country's laboratories for innovation. Cities are where public and private entities collaborate on the ground level to create jobs and build places people want to live. In Atlanta, one of the most prominent examples of how we have taken a proactive approach to build for the future and attract investment and jobs is the Atlanta BeltLine.


The Atlanta BeltLine will create 22 miles of new light rail/modern streetcar transit, 33 miles of multi-use trails, 1,300 acres of new and improved parks. Since the beginning of the Atlanta BeltLine in 2006, we have invested more than $360 million from public and private sources, which has generated more than $1 billion in new private real estate development for a roughly three-to-one return on investment.


I believe that Atlanta has been particularly innovative in its approach to transportation. We have envisioned our city as a vibrant place for education, work and living. We have developed ideas for a supporting transportation system - inclusive of all modes - and connecting to our regional neighbors. We have aggressively sought and responsibly used resources from local, state, federal and private partners to preserve and expand our mobility and access.


Atlanta is not unique though. Other cities throughout the country have their own versions of vision and innovation. Other cities also have challenges in maintaining what they have and building what they need. Other cities are developing partnerships to reshape their communities and transportation systems.


I believe the future of solving much of our nation's transportation problems lies within the vision and leadership we find in our cities. Providing the resources and decision-making authority increasingly to cities and their regions will yield enormous benefits not only to the nation's mobility but to the returning health of our nation's economy.


What do you think of the mayor's post? Tell us in the comment section below.

Follow Kasim Reed on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@KasimReed 
Neil Stapley February 03, 2014 at 01:52 PM
Bob wouldn't have done any good considering Roswell, Alpharetta, Duluth, Suwanee, Johns Creek, Buford, Cumming (need I go on) was also at a stand still. The Mayor of Atlanta should not be the only official that is held accountable but he seems to be getting most of the stick for last Tuesday when most of the Cities outside of Atlanta were in far worse positions. The snow may have been the trigger for a mass departure at the same time but the route cause of the gridlock was that there are no plans in place at a State level how to deal with a mass evacuation of Metro Atlanta and how to control the flow of traffic out it. Had that been a far more serious incident other than 2" of snow where 100 thousands of people needed to get out of the city there would have been a considerable amount a fatalities because the Politicans/GEMA/DOT/Cops/Fire service/Nat'l Guard etc are unable to co-ordinate with each other to ensure the resources are in place where they are needed. My 13 journey home the only cop I saw was the one escorting the single salt truck on 400. The gridlock was caused by the blocking of the intersections as soon as the feeding routes on the highways and interstates became chocked nothing was going to move. You may think I am being over dramatic with the above scenario but hospitals train for it all the time to ensure key personnel are available should the call arise that they are needed. Major cities around the world also train for those times that may never happen but are ready to jump if and when they do. Governor/GEMA/GDOT, city and country officials should have been prepared, but all we have is people complaining along party lines as is the case in this country so the politicians are never held accountable.
Bob February 03, 2014 at 03:04 PM
Neil,I agree with you, as you mentioned some of the same things I posted, gridlock, etc. What I am saying is, the Mayor should have acted earlier, like recommending the closing of schools the day before. I also don't know where that 9 am load of sand went, but it wasn't at the intersections of Piedmont and Lenox Roads, two of the busiest in the city. At any rate, the whole thing should never have happened as it did. We'll see how it works next time.
stanley seigler February 03, 2014 at 07:56 PM
RE: We'll see how it works next time ......................................................................................... weel the last time i lived in hotlanta (early 60's) and it snowed...had to leave my car on the expressway...friend in 4-wheel drive happened by and took me home. ......................................................................................... seemed not much has changed in 50 years...lets see what the next 50 years bring. ......................................................................................... @PATCH, any chance you will program will comment section to recognize paragraphs???
zina amu February 04, 2014 at 08:15 AM
How about raising municipal bonds to fund the resource deficit? Invite the public to put their money where their mouths are - help fund the much needed infrastructure in their town! Who has the most to benefit?
stanley seigler February 04, 2014 at 02:02 PM
in addition to bonds for major projects: there are several ways to increase 'investment' revenue (cutting services is NOT one) for the general welfare (education, healthcare, eg)...first step: insure efficient/effective use of current revenue... ......................................................................................... if interested in one way goto 'Insight 15 Ways to Increase Revenue for Government': http://workinformed.com/page/Insight-15-Ways-To-Increase-Revenue-For-Government ......................................................................................... three of the 15: 1. Account for the actual cost for fee-based services ensuring that governmental agencies recover the costs for those services; 2. Manage revenue sources to ensure that fees owed are paid; 3. Recover all costs for damage and repair to public properties...ie, ensure efficient/effective use of current revenue... we need leaders with innovated vision... ......................................................................................... and raising raise taxes not as bad as some believe/preach...RR did it 11 times

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