• EXCLUSIVE POLL: Opinion shifting for MARTA expansion into Gwinnett County

    By: Steve Gehlbach

    Updated:

    GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. - A new poll this morning shows opponents are getting an edge on a proposed MARTA expansion in Gwinnett County.

    Both sides are trying to make a big push, with a special election just two weeks away.

    Channel 2’s Steve Gehlbach talked to bus riders who said they want to bring MARTA to the county. And they want the rail line from Doraville to the Interstate 85-Jimmy Carter Boulevard area, and possibly to Gwinnett Place Mall.

    But our new poll shows, while not dead, the pro-MARTA supporters have a lot of work to do between now and election day, less than two weeks away.

    The “Go Gwinnett" committee launched a new ad pushing for a "Yes" vote.

    On the same day, we surveyed 1,000 people about expanding MARTA to Gwinnett County and approving a 1-cent sales tax increase to pay for it.

    The exclusive WSB/Rosetta Stone poll shows that 39 percent support the referendum. For the first time, more than half oppose it at 51.4 percent, with almost 10 percent undecided.


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    Joe Newton is leading a coalition of opponent groups, the first organized effort against the referendum.

    He remembers the last time the county voted down MARTA coming to Gwinnett in the early '90s.

    "Heavy vote against it, and we hope to do the same thing again," Newton said.

    But we found some bus riders frustrated over the current transit system and ready to vote "yes."

    "For me to go 2 miles, to go to Kroger, it would take me an hour and a half,” said bus rider Joe Lewis.

    But opponents think the county can do better themselves and don't need MARTA taking over, or trains eventually running into Gwinnett.

    "I think once people see what reasonable alternatives exist and what technology exists, instead of looking back to an 1800s system of rail that failed a long time ago, they'll see there's a better way to do things,” Newton said.

    Early voting is underway. The special election is on March 19.

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