A meeting of the Transportation directors: (from left) Steve Acenbrek of Roswell, Tom Black of Sandy Springs, Ken Hildebrandt of Johns Creek, Carter Lucas of Milton and Pete Sewczwicz of Alpharetta discussed regional transportation issues at a recent forum.
by Bob Pepalis / Appen Newspapers
February 14, 2010 ALPHARETTA - Transportation directors from the five North Fulton cities had a rare joint public meeting on Feb. 11, with each outlining projects designed to improve traffic.
But Al Nash, a director of the Georgia Regional Transit Authority (GRTA), might have offered the biggest news, giving a preview of the big announcement Gov. Sonny Perdue and legislative leaders were making later in the day.
"I'm as frustrated as many of you ... that we haven't had a transportation bill," Nash said.
The new bill would create 12 special taxing districts based on the existing lines of regional commissions, such as the Atlanta Regional Commission. No county would have an opt out – if the majority of voters approved of the 1 percent sales tax, all counties would be required to participate.
The vote probably would be held during the Presidential preference primary in 2012, though some want to move it to 2011. The tax would have an 8-year term, and could be renewed by voters. Ten percent of the revenue collected would be discretionary funds used by the individual governments within the region, with disbursement based on population and lane miles.
"We've got some real challenges financing not only our transportation, but also our transit," Nash said.
If transit fails, the region can fail, he said.
But now you can get on a bus in Cobb County, use a breeze card to go all the way to the Arts Center station and down to the airport with one pass.
And his own GRTA system has more than 200 buses operating, with commuter buses going up and down on Ga. 400, Ga. 141 and I-85 continuously.
Brandon Beach, president of the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, wore his state Transportation Board hat to talk about an idea for light rail running from Windward down to the Medical Arts MARTA station area, across to Cobb Galleria and up to Kennesaw State University. That would link job centers with downtown Atlanta and to another university, he said.
Georgia is behind in transit, and DOT board members were quizzed by the state's Congressmen when they visited Washington, D.C., being told to get their act together. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Rep. John Lewis both supported this light rail idea.
During their portion of the program at the Regional Issues Forum, the cities' transportation directors made sure to outline the projects that were either joint ventures with other cities or counties, and those that should help traffic flow in neighboring cities.
Milton's Transportation director, Carter Lucas, said many intersection projects were planned by Fulton County before the city formed.
"As Milton took over they stopped for a couple of years," he said, leaving the city to complete the projects.
Lucas said he is coordinating with Steve Acenbrak, Roswell's Transportation director, "trying to find any project that we can to help both communities."
That includes transportation, bicycle, pedestrian and any other links.
The Ga. 140-Cox Road intersection improvements are a Ga. Department of Transportation project with turn lanes installed and improved signalization. Another Ga. 140 intersection, this one at New Providence Road, is being studied. That's the intersection where a city fire station sits. It is unsignalized, has no turn lanes and is very difficult to get in and out, particularly as it is skewed. He said it most likely will get traffic signals and work to straighten it out a bit.
On the other end of New Providence Road where it runs into Hwy. 372 is another bad intersection.
"If you are familiar with that, it's even worse than the 140 intersection," he said, with several different legs.
Hopefully both intersection will be completed in 2013, which Lucas acknowledged "is not fast enough for anybody who has to travel on a daily basis.
Soon motorists on Ga. 9 at the Deerfield Parkway intersection will be greeted with traffic signals, which should be up and running in March.
With the opening of a new high school, completion of bridge projects will be important. A bridge on Cogburn Road and another on Landrum Road have some issues and are past their prime, more legacies left by Fulton County.
Lucas said Milton has additional challenges as what might be patching or remilling projects in other places require full reconstruction of roads because when they were widened in the past, not a whole lot of thought was given to the level of traffic they carry now. Shoulders are inadequate and the lanes are too narrow.
"Unfortunately we can't get to them fast enough," he said.
A project with another jurisdiction is work on McGinnis Ferry Road to Ga. 400.
"The center line of the road is actually the city limit," he said.
Every time he gets calls about potholes on McGinnis Ferry, the big question is what side of the road is it on. The northern side would be Forsyth's responsibility.