Construction on costliest transportation tax projects would take years to start

6:49 PM, Jul 25, 2012   |    comments
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ATLANTA, Ga - If voters approve a special sales tax for transportation improvements, construction on some of the most expensive projects in metro Atlanta wouldn't begin for nearly a decade.

"You can't add water and have something come out of the ground," said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, who headed the committee that came up with the list of proposed projects. "
There's going to have to be some patience on the transit issues."

Four of the top five costliest projects on the transportation wish list are focused on transit. Among them, the construction of a light rail line for the Clifton corridor. The $700 million dollar project would connect the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Emory area.

If voters approve the transportation tax next Tuesday, construction on the Clifton light rail line would begin in 2021.

While planning, right of way acquisition, and other behind the scenes work would begin earlier, the Atlanta Regional Commission explains that bulldozers wouldn't get to work on the most expensive projects until the tax was in place long enough to collect the money necessary to complete the project.

In some cases, that would take awhile.

A bus and light rail line that would run from the Acworth area to MARTA's Arts Center station would cost $695 million dollars. Construction would begin in 2021.

A $600 million dollar project to build a light rail line for the Atlanta Beltline would begin construction in 2018. The 7 mile rail line would connect with Atlanta's streetcar project that is already under construction.

Plans to improve the interchange of Interstate 285 and Georgia 400 would cost $450 million. Construction would not get underway until 2021.

Mayor Johnson says without the transportation tax, a massive improvement project at the often congested interchange wouldn't be possible for another 15 years.

"Right now, that's the most unreliable intersection in the country," said Johnson. "If we wait until 2035, I won't be around. Now we're talking about doing it in the next ten years."

One of the more expensive projects could begin right away.

The transportation wish list includes $600 million to make upgrades to the current MARTA system. Electrical equipment, lighting, and rail would be replaced along with a restructuring of the airport station. The Atlanta Regional Commission says if the tax is approved, some work would begin quickly.

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