Residents Talk TSPLOST Projects
A public meeting on the proposed projects on the TSPLOST list was held Tuesday night.
Kennesaw resident William Fennelly says Cobb County needs a plan to have fewer vehicles on the road and provide faster travel to Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. A bus rapid transit system included in the proposed Transportation Investment Act doesn’t accomplish that, Fennelly said.
Fennelly raised his concerns Tuesday night during a public meeting at the North Cobb Senior Center at Kennworth Park. The Enhanced Premium Transit Service, which Cobb County Department of Transportation Director Faye DiMassimo said will be akin to a light-rail vehicle on wheels, will transport residents in Acworth, Kennesaw and the Town Center Mall area to MARTA’s Arts Center Station. At that point, riders can switch to MARTA transit to continue on to Atlanta and the airport.
“I don’t believe that’s a sufficient answer to the problem,” Fennelly said. “We have millions of cars going into Atlanta every day.”
Last week, Fennelly said it took him two-and-a-half hours to travel from Kennesaw to Hartsfield-Jackson. A bus wouldn’t be any faster, he said.
“(The proposed system) is not going to solve the problem,” Fennelly said. “(Rapid transit) doesn’t exist. This is extremely frustrating. Just think of the jobs that could be created by having a system around I-285, up I-75 and up I-85.”.
The meeting was set up as an information session for residents, who were able to ask questions after brief explanations of projects that would be funded if the 1-cent regional Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is approved on July 31 by the majority of voters in the 10-county region that includes Cobb. The tax will be collected for either 10 years or until the expected $8.5 billion in revenues has been collected, whichever comes first.
“If it happens in less than 10 years, the tax stops,” Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews said. “If we hit 10 years and it hasn’t been collected, the tax stops.”
The tax will pass if the majority of voters in the 10-county region approve it.
Projects are listed on either the 85 percent list, which were developed and approved by the Regional Roundtable; or the 15 percent list, which are local rather than regional projects. Each of Cobb County's four commissioners were allotted $34.69 million to give to projects in their districts. Additionally, the city of Acworth has a 15 percent list totaling $4.7 million, and the city of Kennesaw has a list totaling $5.77 million.
Of the revenues expected, $689 million is allotted for the proposed bus rapid transit system, which officials said will cover construction costs as well as 10 years of maintenance and operation.
One man said he thinks that means a permanent solution will include an increase in property taxes, at which point Acworth Mayor Tommy Allegood stopped him.
“I’m not allowed to express my opinion?” the man said.
“We’re not going to debate,” Allegood said. “We’re just here to discuss the projects.”
“OK, have it your way,” the man said.
One woman, who declined to give her name, asked how long routes would take on the new bus and if it would be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
“If my flight is delayed until 3 a.m., would I be able to get home that night, or would I have to sleep in the airport?” she said.
DiMassimo said that travel times and hours of operation have not yet been determined.
“I don’t think we’ll be a 24/7 operation,” she said. “Most are not.”
Acworth resident Sarah Spicer said that, while she went into the meeting undecided as to how she will cast her vote in July, she left knowing on which side she will vote.
“It was informative,” she said. “It answered my questions.”
Projects on the 85% List