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."