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DeKalb Chamber Prez Backs TSPLOST

"Most of the opposition is rooted in emotion and anger," Leonardo McClarty says.

By Leonardo McClarty

The Great Recession has hit DeKalb County with a vengeance.

Thousands of residents are out of work, four years after the onslaught on the worst economic downturn since the 1930s.

Home values are under water throughout the county. And there are those, unbelievably, who think we should turn our backs on a $1.1 billion investment in our county.

Such opposition to the July 31 transportation referendum is questionable. Most of the opposition is rooted in emotion and anger.

There is anger that South DeKalb will not receive a rail line to Stonecrest Mall. There is emotion that our county is being asked to pay for a second penny for transportation when it has already paid the MARTA tax for three decades.

I understand the opposition. But the opportunity before us is too great to turn our backs on.

DeKalb citizens should Vote Yes on July 31 for the transportation referendum. The referendum will put thousands of DeKalb citizens back to work and pump tens of millions of dollars into our local economy. It will help restore our home values.

It will make us competitive with other regions that are vying to take away our businesses and jobs. And it will give us the beginning of a world-class transportation system that will sustain our region for years to come and create a better DeKalb for our children and grandchildren.

It will also give us a shot at the rail line to Stonecrest Mall that has long been hoped for. The referendum contains $225 million for bus rapid transit – a down payment on rail that, with federal matching funds, could help get that project off the ground.

Going to Washington empty-handed, however, without the $225 million, almost guarantees our inability to leverage federal funds for the project.

It also includes $700 million for rail to the Clifton Corridor.

The corridor contains some of the largest and most important employers in metro Atlanta, including Emory University and Emory Hospital, the Centers for Disease Control, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston and others. With rail, the Clifton Corridor grows in regional importance, attracting even more businesses and jobs.

The July 31 referendum will also bring many improvements to existing roads and bridges throughout DeKalb.

Finally, the project will generate more than $100 million for discretionary projects that will help improve our existing transportation system with more sidewalks, bike paths and traffic synchronization.

The July 31 referendum is the first time ever that our region will vote as a region.

Unlike the MARTA vote decades ago, none of the 10 counties in our region can “opt out” of the transportation investment. That means that if the vote prevails, all counties in the metro area for first time will provide some support to MARTA.

It also means that there will be significant transportation investments throughout our region, and those too help and support DeKalb citizens, because so many of our residents commute to neighboring counties to work. 

So a Yes Vote helps us in three ways: With improvements to DeKalb, improvements to the county where we commute, and regional improvements that help untie traffic knots throughout metro Atlanta.

I understand the opposition. But we must vote on our pocketbooks and the future of our county and region, not on emotion.

DeKalb commuters are losing millions each year in wasted fuel and lost time due to traffic congestion. Investing in transportation will help us wipe out that “congestion tax,” while showing the nation and the world that we’re serious about tackling our greatest impediment to growth and becoming competitive with other regions.

For more jobs, increased home values and the ability to move around more freely, I strongly urge DeKalb citizens to Vote Yes for transportation on July 31.

Leonardo McClarty is the president of DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.

Drewboo July 17, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Well said!!
Mic July 17, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Just say no to more government "investment". Which of course means you pay more taxes to the bloated, wasteful government. Vote NO!
narwanna July 18, 2012 at 10:38 AM
If we want to increase jobs and lesson unemployment vote yes. We as ppl need to realize no is not always a good factor. Try to help others and being selfish, that oh our neighborhood to much traffic unwanted ppl etc.... Help us to help you and others! One day you may not have a car public transportation! Buses, trains in Greater ATL/Dekalb is much needed.
narwanna July 18, 2012 at 10:39 AM
Also, I am truly frustrated on how N. Decatur rd is.
Ms. July 18, 2012 at 12:25 PM
-Why hasn't the state used some of the $40 million in overpaid tolls to start projects they need? -Why did Burrell Ellis dedicate $100k to Soap Box Derby track when Dekalb needs so many crirtical projects? -Why is there $4 million in this project to go to building runway lights and towers at Cobb airport, and how is this going to alleviate commute time? -Why is it every time the government mismanages the taxes we pay then to provide services (like the Dekalb school board recently), they feel perfectly comfortable running to citizens to make up for their errors? They can't manage what they've got, but sure, let's give them more to mismanage. I love parks, but billions in this money goes to them, and that doesn't relieve congestion. Not to mention the billion the government will get they don't have to account for. Hmmm...
MrMatt July 18, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Well said Ms. The list of projects is highly questionable as to whether it would even alleviate traffic (though I'm sure we'll get years of traffic tangles as they close roads/bridges/etc for 'improvements'). I would love MARTA/rail to work better in Atlanta - but as other studies have clearly shown, we lack the density for rail to have any meaningful effect on traffic. Jobs would be very nice for workers - but the numbers behind the claims are pretty shady. They count jobs over decades of time, and many would be non-permanent, construction-related jobs. And last, as pointed out by Ms - government, specifically GA/ATL local governments, have shown NO ability to effectively manage their finances - BUT a very CLEAR ability to go back on promises (i.e GA400 Toll). If passed, this bill will raise more funds - but the 1-cent tax will NEVER go away, and it is 100% guaranteed every project on the list will come in 20-50-100% OVER BUDGET, requiring more special funds (or far fewer projects actually being done). VOTE NO.
bulldogger July 21, 2012 at 01:11 PM
DeKalb citizens should Vote Yes on July 31 for the transportation referendum. The referendum will put thousands of DeKalb citizens back to work and pump tens of millions of dollars into our local economy. It will help restore our home values. Mr. President, this ain't never happened and if I'm wrong, please cite an instance where our hard earned tax dollars have provided thousands of jobs to DeKalb County Residents. You know, you can spout off all you want about the merits of increasing taxes, but all it does it take more money out of our pockets that will end up as another ill-conceived government program that manages to waste money on a grand scale. Folks, this is gonna do nothing to help our traffic woes, our unemployment problems, our economy.......the only effect it's gonna have is to "Take More Of Your Money". Vote NONONONONONONONONONO on July 31st.......I'll guarantee you, you'll feel more jingle in your pockets if you do.
John July 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM
Please vote "No" to the increase in taxes which as many have said provides funds for local governments to once again waste. Why do we need to a rail to Stonecrest Mall, it is already failing as most malls are. Are we trying to pay the real estate developers back for developing a mall that took almost eight years to get off the table? Secondly what improvements need to be made on Panola Road, to make it easier to get to the Walmart Super Center. We need real issues addressed and solved if we want this tax and giving our DeKalb county government more money to spend on "new" projects when they can't manage our current ones. If you want to be more effective, bill a light rail from Barrett Parkway, straight down 75 to midtown and take the load off that interstate. Do the same down 85 from Lawrenceville. And finally let's tax the folks that live outside of town to force them to use this transportation. Marta goes no where, never has and never will unless Cobb and Gwinnet are forced to engage in some real public transportation. And finally why not spend the money on the camera controlled intersections, as in Cobb County, that would free up traffic. NO on July 31, save our money so that they can get it through other ways, high millage rates on school taxes or higher millage rates on regular taxes.
Nick July 30, 2012 at 01:58 PM
"If you want to be more effective, build a light rail from Barrett Parkway, straight down 75 to midtown and take the load off that interstate. Do the same down 85 from Lawrenceville. And finally let's tax the folks that live outside of town to force them to use this transportation. Marta goes no where, never has and never will unless Cobb and Gwinnett are forced to engage in some real public transportation." Right on, John!

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