Ads remind of commute times to support transportation tax vote


ATLANTA - Backers of the regional transportation referendum have put out a privately funded TV ad focusing on time Metro Atlanta drivers spend away from their families and homes due to sitting in traffic.

It's the first part of a campaign to let voters know about the upcoming vote on the Tansportation Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax, also known as T-SPLOST,  in July.

Key projects that would be funded by the transportation referendum include improvements at major interchanges and funds for MARTA upgrades and growth, in exchange for a 1 percent sales tax over 10 years.

One of the major interchanges targeted for improvement is the one at Interstate 285 and Ashford Dunwoody Road in DeKalb County.

Driver Patricia Ward told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri she commutes from Sandy Springs to Decatur for work. She said she plans to vote, but is not sure if she will support the initiative.

"I think 1 percent would be OK, but you have to remember that anytime they tax us, they're not going to take it back even when the work's finished," Ward said.

Bert Brantley is the spokesperson for Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network. He said the focus now is on informing voters.

"We already pay a congestion tax. We pay a congestion tax, we pay a tax in time wasted fuel, wasted sitting in traffic,” Brantley said.
The referendum includes projects in 10 counties: Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, DeKalb, Rockdale, Henry, Clayton, Fayette and Douglas.

"We have some very important companies that have looked at Atlanta and decided not to come here because of our traffic," Brantley added.

Driver Mary Spencer said she is concerned about the congested commute, but she is not convinced this is the time for another tax.

"There's got to be an answer. I don't know what that is, but I don't know that I would be in favor of more tax," Spencer said.

Critics of the initiative said the allocation of funds does not impact enough drivers and would not adequately reduce congestion. It will be up to voters in the 10 counties to decide whether to approve the initiative.