Exploring The History Of Atlanta's Major Issues

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ATLANTA,None - Traffic is a regional problem, but the people of metro Atlanta sometimes have a tough time thinking regionally.

One example; the original MARTA proposal involved five counties, but one those counties voted in 1971, only two counties, Fulton and DeKalb, agreed to the MARTA sales tax.

Forty years later, the region is choking on its traffic and the voters will have another say, not county by county but as a 10-county region. Backers hope voters will look at the big picture.

"On average, in Atlanta, every county resident in this region spends 40 percent of their time in their car outside their own county. Forty percent of the time you're driving in another county. We've got to develop a system that enhances everybody's quality of life, everybody's commute time on a regional basis," said Tad Leithhead Chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission, ARC.

"When the benefits are clear, the Atlanta region has shown a remarkable ability to work together," said Leithhead.

The 1996 Olympic Games involved many counties in the region beyond and it took a regional sense of purpose to pull it off.

Regarding the economic impact of the next years, Leithead said transportation referendum will be four times greater than the Olympics if it passes.

"In 2012, we will either make a statement that as a region we're prepared to move forward with a solution to those issues or were not. And if we're not prepared to move forward, then what does that say about our residents commitment to try to solve the huge issues?" said Leithhead.

"I do believe that an educated population will understand the impact of this and vote in favor of it," said Leithhead.

Traffic, of course, is not the only regional issue.

Every county and city in the region has a vested interest in keeping an ample supply of water; and whether it be reservoirs or basin transfers or conservation measures or all of the above, it's going to require cooperation and agreement across political boundary lines.

"It think now were at a different point in time and we gotta function as a region because the problems are not unique to a jurisdiction, problems cut across all boundaries," said Sam Williams of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

"Water does not recognize a county boundary, highways don't, and most people have no idea where one county ends and the other one begins," said Williams

Atlantans' relations with the suburbs and the rest of Georgia have often been uneasy and even hostile. A recent lobbying effort by Mayor Reed and Gov. Deal indicates that is changing.

"I think it speaks volumes when the mayor of our capital city is on a plane to Washington with the governor of our state. I think this is a new day in terms of leadership and collaboration across the region and across the state," said Williams.


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