Progress Partner’s Nash touts TSPLOST merits

Expected low turnout makes voting important

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Progress Partners of North Fulton Executive Director Al Nash told North Fulton business leaders about the importance of passing the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.

“Would everybody agree that we have a transportation problem?” Nash asked guests at the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs and Enterprise breakfast June 27. “Raise your hand.”

Many hands rose, and there was general laughter. The July 31 North Fulton ballot will include a referendum on a 10-year, 1 percent sales tax intended to pay for transportation improvements in metro Atlanta.

Nash told guests there are people rooting for the proposed tax to fail. It’s not just the Tea Party, although he emphasized he respected their right to advocate their beliefs.

“The groups that are cheering for us to fail are our competition in places like Charlotte, Dallas and other parts of this country. They have probably already got headlines written to publish on [August] 1 that say ‘Atlanta fails.’”

** Eighty-five percent of the revenues raised by the tax will be used for regional transportation projects. Nash said the proposed tax will fund almost $1 billion in projects directly benefiting North Fulton, including revamping the interchange between I-285 and Ga. 400 and the interchange between Ga. 400 and Holcomb Bridge Road.

** Fifteen percent of the revenue raised by the tax will go to local governments to spend on local transportation needs.

Nash cited a visit to Johns Creek where he was approaching Medlock Bridge Road on State Bridge Road. He had to make a left turn, but traffic backup prevented him from getting into the empty turn lane.

“For a few dollars, we could lengthen that lane [to speed the thru-traffic],” he said. “Think about the flow of traffic.”

Nash said many people don’t like the project list or criticize the ratio of transit projects to road projects. However, a Georgia business analysis found a deficit in transportation funding – motor fuel tax revenues and federal grants used to fund transportation infrastructure – are not keeping pace with the region’s growing population. Over the next 20 years to 30 years, metro Atlanta’s population will rise by 3 million people.

“We need to think about how we want to take care of this traffic,” he said.

He predicted a 12 percent to 15 percent turnout in the July 31 referendum. Only 350,000 voters will decide whether the tax will pass.

“If you believe you want this thing done, it is imperative you go out and cast your vote,” he said. “Your family needs to go vote. Every vote counts.”