The Three Major Issues Holding Atlanta Back

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ATLANTA,None - This is a key year in moving Atlanta forward. Local leaders have identified three major problems, that if not fixed soon could send the entire metro area into a period of decline.

Channel 2 Action News in collaboration with the Atlanta Journal Constitution is working to delve deeper into the three major issues facing Atlanta; transportation, water and education, and reach out to local leaders for specific plans on how to turn things around.

Time is money and constant traffic jams across Atlanta have been bad for business. It is a major reason why companies that have looked to move here have rejected Atlanta and as a result the city has lost out on jobs, according to public officials.

"I sit in meetings almost every other day where we are trying to bring business to our community, and traffic is the No. 1 argument our competitors use against us," said Mayor Kasim Reed.

In July of 2012, we will have an opportunity to do something about our traffic nightmare. We will vote on a 1-cent special option sales tax that would last 10 years and raise an estimated $7 billion for transportation projects to ease congestion.

Channel 2 Action News anchor Justin Farmer asked Dr. Beverly Scott, CEO of MARTA, "Is this a turning point in our region. Is it that big?"

"It's big, it's that big!" replied Scott.

Channel 2 Action News will examine some of the major road and transit projects being considered to reduce congestion on our major fairways.

A recent poll showed that only 35 percent of voters would support the penny tax. The business community is planning a multimillion-dollar ad campaign to win over voters.

"The good news is this is going to tell people exactly how the money is going to be spent. It is nothing like give the money to the government and trust them. This will certify the ballot says this is where the money will go and it is only for 10 years," said Sam Williams of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

Farmer traveled to Denver to see how the constituents there came together to solve their traffic issues and how officials convinced voters they would gain a huge time savings for a tax that equaled just pennies a day.

"It worked out to 23 cents a day and you would get about 29 minutes of saved time," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

In 2012, Atlanta will have the challenge of dealing with the continued fallout of the cheating scandal that tainted the integrity of our entire public school system.

"I think that the cheating scandal, the ultimate investigation is going to be extremely bad," said Reed.

Channel 2 Action News talked with public figures to see how the city can move beyond the scandal that could keep us from attracting new jobs.

"We've had companies that were interested in moving here that say, 'explain this to us, we've read things in the national press. What's going on?'" said Williams.

Georgia faces the challenge of solving our water wars with Alabama and Florida. Georgia is considering new reservoirs to help solve our water problems.

"We've got about 50 trillion gallons of water that falls from the sky in Georgia every year. Of that 50 trillion, we capture 1 trillion. So if we can just go from 1 trillion to 2 trillion, we could double our water supply," said Tad Leithhead of the Atlanta Regional Commission.

Georgia faces three major problems that are at a turning point here in the coming months, Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution will examine these issues in depth and share why they are so important to moving Atlanta forward.

"If we can attack these problems and be successful in addressing them, there is unlimited potential for the city," said Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


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