Photo via Flikr user Wesley Fryer
In the Atlanta region, revenues from gas taxes, the primary source of federal and state funding for transportation infrastructure, are declining as cars become more fuel efficient and inflation erodes its value. Seventy percent of the region’s transportation funding will be spent to simply maintain the existing system over the next 30 years, meaning little will be left to expand the network to alleviate congestion.
In June 2010, the Transportation Investment Act was signed into law, allowing voters to decide if they want to raise their own taxes to combat congestion. The law divides the state into 12 regions for the purpose of voting on a one percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in that region over 10 years. Elected officials in each region will develop a priority list of projects to be funded by the one percent sales tax. Georgians will vote on the tax in July 2012. Should the tax pass in one of the 12 regions, all revenue collected there would stay in that region. Local governments would share 15 percent of the revenues to be spent on any projects they choose. The other 85 percent will be used to fund the list of projects created by each region's transportation roundtable.
The Atlanta Regional Roundtable unanimously approved an $8 billion final project list that contains $602 million in transit projects that would connect to the Atlanta BeltLine. The Atlanta Regional Commission found that the completed project will bring a four to one (4:1) return on investment including 200,000 jobs, $34 billion in additional gross regional product by 2040, $18 billion in personal income, and $9.2 billion in travel time savings.