Toronto ponies up for transportation, will Atlanta?

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The 19th Atlanta Regional Commission LINK trip, this year to Toronto, will explore how the leaders of North America’s fourth largest city and its metro area handle issues like economic development, making suburbs more walkable and mobile and connecting to the city core.

Atlanta leaders are back from their trip to Toronto with plenty to chew on when it comes to funding our city’s transportation needs.

A delegation of civic, business and government leaders from metro Atlanta — part of the Atlanta Regional Commission’s 19th LINK trip– were in Toronto last week to gain inspiration and insight into our own regional issues.

As The AJC’s Scott Trubey reports, local, provincial and federal governments in Toronto have shelled out 80 billion dollars for transit, roads and bridges over the coming decade.

By contrast, Georgia lawmakers struggled to get a $1 billion transportation funding bill passed this year. The new legislation will double the amount of money the state currently spends on roads and bridges.  That’s a comparatively tiny investment – and it’s meant to be spread throughout the state, not just metro Atlanta.

HB 170 did provide a way to get additional funding in the near-term. A provision lets counties (alone or in groups) hold a referendum on a sales tax hike of up to 1 percent to fund local transportation projects. A 1 percent regional sales tax referendum, often referred to as the TSPLOST, failed in 9 of 12 regions of the state in 2012. But many are starting to reconsider it.

Already, Fulton County Chairman John Eaves has suggested he wants his constituents to hold a vote. Will a glimpse of Toronto’s progress embolden other regional leaders?


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