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How Much Will $6 Billion Improve Access to Jobs in Metro Atlanta?

8:39 AM PDT on May 21, 2012

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We've written a few times about how transit referendums need a simple, to-the-point message summarizing what voters can expect to receive in return. Here's how they're doing it in Atlanta.

In their quest to win voter support for a $6 billion funding package that would be split about evenly between transit and roads, proponents have settled on the phrase "Let's Untie Atlanta's Knot." Equating the ballot measure to a referendum on Atlanta's notorious congestion woes seems like a smart idea.

Network blog Decatur Metro decided to evaluate the "untying" claim on its central promise -- congestion relief -- and found that it passes the sniff test, especially when it comes to transit:

The AJC this morning has summarized the Atlanta Regional Commission’s findings from a 10-year traffic simulation program and shown that the figures overall are either impressive or underwhelming, depending on what area you look at and/or which expert/non-expert you speak with. Atlanta’s infrastructure is a big ol’ expensive mistress, and though $6 billion may sound big compared to, say, our annual salaries, it’s a drop in the bucket for the metro area’s collection of road and rail. Or Mark Zuckerberg for that matter. But some figures seem heartening...

From the Atlanta Journal Constitution:

On average, the number of metro Atlantans able to reach job centers in under 45 minutes would rise just 6 percent by car, and about 20 percent by bus or train, if the projects are built. The new transit projects expect perhaps 75,000 or more daily boardings.

Regional planners insist that in the world of transportation design, a 6 percent or 20 percent jump in good commutes is a big deal.

This should be a slam dunk for Atlanta. We'll be following it through voting day in July.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Grid Chicago continues to evaluate Chicago's transportation "Action Agenda" in a second sit-down question-and-answer session with DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. Bike Lane Living shares a video documenting Indianapolis's Bike to Work Day. And Alex Block weighs in on the density debate spurred by Richard Florida's comments at the Congress for the New Urbanism conference in Palm Springs.

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