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Live: Cobb Dials Up Rail, Road Needs

Cobb Commissioner Tim Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews lead a telephone town hall on transportation projects that could be funded if a 1-cent sales tax passes next summer.

More than 170,000 Cobb County residents will find county Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews on the end of the line during tonight's phone call discussing possible transportation projects for the area, including a

Cobb residents will be called at random and given the chance to ask questions and share input with Lee and Mathews, who represent the Atlanta Regional Roundtable, about their transportation wants and needs and projects that could be funded if the 1-cent regional sales tax––passes next summer.

Residents who don't receive a call but wish to participate should call 1-888-886-6603 and enter PIN 16720.

8:15 p.m. And tonight's town hall comes to an end.

8:12 p.m. Lee: We're hopeful that through additional funding, we'll be able to expand our paratransit line and help some of our seniors as well.

8:11 p.m. Caller question from Carol: I just recently moved here, and I'm legally blind. I have to walk two miles just to get to paratransit. Will there be improvements to paratransit service?

8:10 p.m. Mathews: You're absolutely right. It doesn't matter how great the rail line is if we can't get to it. There's currently circulator routes that would be improved in this plan to get people to these rails. Also, improvements to bus routes, etc...

8:09 p.m. CCT is very limited system. How will people from outlying areas get to the rail?

8:08 p.m. Lee: We estimate about 30 percent will be generated from people outside the region, through sales tax.

8:07 p.m. Caller question from Frank: Is there an estimate of the revenue from outside the region from the T-SPLOST?

8:06 p.m. Mathews: Again, this whole proposal is a very comprehensive proposal. It's not just about rail. Cobb County has many plans to improve a lot of road projects that would include widening roads.

8:05 p.m. Caller question from Roy: I agree with the light rail. But is there anything to widen the bridges/roads?

7:59 p.m. Mathews: The current SPLOST for Cobb is predetermined list of projects. Gives us ability to attack some larger projects. Adding this on helps Cobb County move forward but also has impact on larger Atlanta region.

7:59 p.m. E-mail from Fred: How will this program impact the local SPLOST that recently passed in Cobb?

7:53 p.m. Lee: Right now, the specific type of transportation has not been decided. There are studies going on about most efficient way to do it. Right now, looking at light rail, commuter rail, small buses and all kinds of technology.

7:52 p.m. Is a monorail system going to be considered?

7:49 p.m. Lee: Trying to get concentrated, connected trail system through Cobb County. As we move forward, we understand how much people are growing and incorporating that (cycling) as a separate type of transportation.

7:48 p.m. How can you incorporate cycling as a safe and viable alternative to driving in this infrastructure?

7:45 p.m. Mathews: Let's say Cobb County votes it down but the rest of region approves it, it will go into effect in Cobb County. If referendum fails regionally, it will create tough burden on local government when it comes to transportation funding in the future. State has actually put some penalties in there if it doesn't pass.

7:44 p.m. Caller question from Lynn: If we vote no on this T-SPLOST, what's gonna happen?

7:43 p.m. Mathews: Again, this is a regional tax and a regional proposal. Appointments will be made. No guarantee that there will be representatives from Cobb. Appointments will be done at the state level.

7:43 p.m. Caller question from Veronica: Who will comprise the Citizens Oversight Committee?

7:41 p.m. Lee: We've got to remember that the projects are regional projects. May or may not be projects that affect specific region.

7:40 p.m. Caller question from Eric: How are the SPLOST dollars going to be allocated by city or county?

7:34 p.m. Mathews: As we look ahead, this is an identified list of projects that would have an impact on the region. So, the purpose of collecting it in future funds gives us a larger pool of money, and just to give you kind of a perspective, the total dollar amount we're looking at is $28 billion. We can't generate that in just Cobb County. That's going to be very difficult for us to attain at a local level.

7:32 p.m. Why can't we just use current funds better?

7:29 p.m. Mathews: "It is a major investment in the future of the Atlanta region as well as in Cobb County."

7:29 p.m. Caller question from Anita: Is it necessary that the tax be passed now, or is it something that can be looked at later?

7:26 p.m. Mathews: If passed, tax would begin collection in January 2013 and run for 10 years through 2023.

7:24 p.m. E-mail question: When will the tax end?

7:22 p.m. Tim Lee: From the regional T-SPLOST (if it passes July 2012) that stems from the Georgia Transportation Investment Act of 2010.

7:20 p.m. Caller question: Where will you get all this money for transportation projects when the economy is down the way it is?

7:18 p.m. First polling question: How important is it that the metro Atlanta region increase investment in transportation?

7:16 p.m. And tonight's telephone town hall meeting is live. Callers told to ask questions by hitting the number "0."

Freya Stark June 16, 2011 at 03:34 PM
Not sure I understand your post but we need to look at spending at the local and national levels.
Inside-Out June 17, 2011 at 04:38 AM
I'm with you on the previous SPLOST Evil, I am just a liitle concerned about the huge projects on this list. I am all for a light rail system and think it should have been started twenty years ago. A red flag went up to me when I heard that they were going to spend over 200 million on Windy Hill road to help the Windy Mac connector. They knew while they were building this project that Windy Hill road as it is today was not going to handle what they were bringing in. Windy Hill Road is a nightmare now and th eroad hasn't even opened up yet. I think they should have presented the complete project from the on start. I know some of the council was not on board with this project from the onset and I would like to hear what they have to say now that it is here. It's like they have created a nightmare for Smyrna and now they need 200 million to fix it. They knew this was a problem from the start. I have always been a SPLOST supporter in the past and I truely feel that the burden should be placed on everyone not just our residents. I am just having a problem getting behind this one so far, so I am still doing my dilligent research. Pretty bad timing for another increase.
kathleen obrian June 17, 2011 at 09:07 PM
hi , I am not sure I understand your posts and I am not sure where windy hill road is supposed to be taking everyone from what point to point and how does this effect Smyrna in bad way , you all are great at explaining things and I am glad your here to ask, I do not see also how traffic will move quickly in the mornings or afternoon with the school bus stops and even the cct bus will just stop and sit there waiting I guess for the time of routes but seems like cct could pull off the road way , it is hard to pass in heavy traffic and it has blocked the lane many times just idling . I was on windy hill road not long ago and saw the intersection in front of milford school school was a accident waiting to happen the left turn lanes just appear and you have to merge so quickly -many did not see it and cut in front of cars almost side swiping them, it is very poorly designed , thank -you for great informative posts and best wishes to all for a great weekend and ~*Happy Fathers Day*~ to dads ;)
Inside-Out June 18, 2011 at 08:35 PM
Kathleen, I was looking for a copy of the plans online, but I haven't been able to find it yet, but I will continue to look. Windy hill road will be totally re-done. It will have a grade seperation. The inside lanes you will not be able to turn off of going through Smyrna. You will only be able to access these lanes at South Cobb drive and Atlants road. The outside lanes will be seperated by grade and these are the lanes that you will have to use if you want to visit any of the businesses or turn off of Windy Hill road. You will no longer be able to turn left anywhere along Windy hill road. Their will be no more passing or getting by the stopped CCT buses. Traffic will just have to come to a stand still while these buses load and unload. Accidents will just stop traffic cold. This type of roadway does not exsist in Cobb county. To me, this is not the type of roadway that will help the Smyrna area in any way. I wanted to make sure that all of the citizens know what is in store for Smyrna and do we really want this type of prject in our town. I will post the proposed plans as soon as I can locate them. This project will begin at Benson Poole road and go through to Cobb Parkway. We all know what Cobb Parkway and Windy hill road are like currently during rush hours. Of course I think that Cobb County will be back next year wanting more funds to finish Windy Hill road to I-75, otherwise Windy Hill road at Cobb Parkway is going to become an even worse nightmare than it is today.
kathleen obrian June 19, 2011 at 04:37 AM
thank-you so very much Inside -Out for your information , I honestly did not ever think it was going to be designed that way , I assumed the new road connection was finished and windy hill road was staying the same from the school on in to smyrna and all , and I agree with you that is going to being even more of traffic problems , I appreciate your kindness very much thank-you again for your reply .

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