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Wheels & Heels: Decatur Mayor on Transportation Vote

Floyd says the $6.14 billion regional transportation tax is crucial to the city and region.

Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd was one of the officials who approved a list of $6.14 billion in proposed transportation projects in the region. The list goes up for a vote in 2012 in 10 metro Atlanta counties.

Included among the projects is a $700 million Clifton Corridor MARTA route to Emory University;$25 million in corridor improvements to North Druid Hills Road from Buford Highway to Lawrenceville Highway; and  $12 million in pedestrian, landscape and bus improvements on Buford Highway in DeKalb.

Wheels and Heels interviewed Floyd, a member of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable, about the transportation improvements.

Why is this important to Decatur?

I think it’s a purely regional thing. You can’t just look at why it's important to Decatur. It's a tremendous boost to the metro area that deals with quality of life and jobs. This $6.1 billion program, if approved, will spur about $10 million-$15 billion worth of jobs over 10 years. Every one of those projects changes the quality of life for everybody who lives in metro area. It’s a life changing thing, and a once-in-a-lifetime changing opportunity for the region to step up and make an investment in our transportation problems.

How are you planning to "sell" this tax to voters?

This is not a normal situation, and it’s not a normal tax -- it's a regional tax dealing with everyone’s quality of life. There’s no political issue here. This is a pure transportation improvement tax. We know what its going to be used for, we know where money is going to be spent and what the vision is.

This is going to change my quality of life, and also for my kids. The program passed with a 5-0 vote. Everyone across the  tremendously diverse region came together to approve this. We all understand the importance of this and how it can change our lives.

What obstacles do you think are in the way of passing this program?

I think the political obstacles are enormous. Nobody wants another tax. This is not one to be opposed just because it’s a tax. There's a certain amount who will oppose it. But the people of the metro region need to step up to plate and make a difference, not only for themselves, but for their kids and grandkids.

How does the commission plan to sell the tax to voters?

It's not a normal situation, from the economy. But it’s not a normal tax; it's a regional tax dealing with everyone’s quality of life. There’s no political issue here. This is a pure transportation improvement tax. You know what it's going to be used for, you know where the money is going to be spent; you know what the vision is.

Everyone across the region, a tremendously diverse region, everybody came together and we understand the importance of this and how it can change our lives.

What projects specifically benefit Decatur?

The Clifton and I-20 south lines deal with the largest job center in the metro area. There's Emory, the VA, the CDC -- there’s 30,000 jobs there now. In 15 years, there are likely to be more. That's one area of the economy that is still strong. Although some of the construction money will be spent on outside companies, most of the workers will be here.

See the final list of proposed projects here.

Matt McW August 19, 2011 at 03:31 PM
Photos and videos provided courtesy of the Livable Communities Coalition and the Fair Share for Transit initiative (http://livcomm.wordpress.com/). Check out Mayor Bill Floyd's comments at the Aug. 15 roundtable meeting in the video shared above.

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