February 16, 2016 12:12 PM
Senate Bill 330 will receive a hearing this afternoon at a meeting of the Senate Transportation Committee. The measure, sponsored by Brandon Beach would allow the MARTA counties to levy a one half percent sales tax which would be used to pay for MARTA expansion. Should the bill pass in Fulton and DeKalb counties, it’s anticipated that MARTA would extend the heavy rail Red Line from its current ending point at North Springs to Windward Parkway. A light rail line would be built connecting the Lindbergh and Avondale stations, providing service to the Emory and Centers for Disease Control areas. Finally, a combination of heavy rail and bus rapid transit would connect downtown with Stonecrest Mall in south DeKalb County.
Reaction to the North Fulton heavy rail proposal is mixed. In Sunday’s Atlanta JOurnal Constitution, bill sponsor Brandon Beach of Alpharetta wrote an op-ed in support of the expansion, while Senator John Albers of Roswell wrote in opposition.
Residents in North Fulton appear to oppose the expansion. A poll of 500 active Georgia voters presented the following question:
Q1. The Georgia General Assembly is considering putting a voter referendum on the ballot to increase the sales tax in Fulton County by half a cent. The funds would be spent on building a new MARTA rail line extension into North Fulton.
I will give you the main arguments for and against the proposal, and then ask for your opinion of it.
The proposed rail line would become operational fifteen years from now in 2031, but the half-cent sales tax would be collected for the next 47 years.
Supporters argue that a new rail line is needed to relieve traffic and create new development.
Opponents argue that a new rail line wouldn’t even be operational for 15 years from now, yet the tax increase would be collected for the 47 more years even though studies show that the investment would not reduce traffic.
35.8% of those polled were in favor of the proposal after hearing the above question, while 58.6% opposed it. 5.6% were undecided. Among subgroups, the most support, understandably, came from millennials, but even that group was opposed 53%-41%. More than 68% of Republicans opposed the expansion, while Democrats were split, with 48% in favor and 49% against.
The poll, conducted on February 11th has a margin of error of 4%. Crosstabs are below.