Reading the article “Dekalb fighting for I-20 Rail Project” recently in the Crossroads News was interesting because it continues to remind me of the inept political leadership we have in Dekalb. I believe “if you are not at the decision table, you are on the menu.”
It appears to this writer our political and some civic leadrers are attempting to fight battles after the decisions have been made. The interest in light rail for central and south Dekalb County is not new. In fact, MARTA in 1996 conducted a feasibility study of constructing a light rail or similar fixed guideway transit line in the area. Through FY 1997, Congress appropriated $656,388.00 for the feasibility study and the study was to be completed by September 1997.
Now MARTA officals recommend $225 million for preliminary and final design for rail and park and ride. Somehow, now for our community to be denied $500 million is insulting. Insulting because we are being ask to contribute a great portion of $6.1 billon for someones else’s transportation wet dream.
Voters in South Dekalb, the political, business and civic leaders must take the lead in opposing the A.R.C. proposed transportation plan in November if the rail for Central and South Dekalb is not included now.
The plan can not go forward without the approval of the voters in 9 counties. If we have leaders in our community, now is the time to show astute political gamemanship and organize opposition to any transpotation plan which does not have South and Central Dekalb rail now as part of the plan. We can make our 1cent count with our no vote in November
As previously stated the MARTA corridor studied in 1996 extended from the MARTA Lindbergh Center transit station on the North along an existing railroad line to Emory University, then south through the Decatur/East Lake communities to connect with the MARTA East heavy rail line. The corridor then follows a southeasterly course along Candler Road crossing the I-285 perimeter highway to the DeKalb College south campus.
The fact is A.R.C .Plan 2040 already has a blueprint and there is no way A.R.C. can implement Plan 2040 without all partners buying in.
This writer believe at this point if our elected and civic leaders have not planned since 1996 how to have the I-20 rail included in the Plan 2040 of the A.R.C. then what have our elected and civic leaders been doing since 1996 to ensure the light rail will be included in any transportation plan today.
We have federal, state and regional partners along with private sector leadership and interested people within special interest groups who should have been consistently engaged in A.R.C PLAN 2040 issues process before now.
If such a coalition existed and David Pelton who is Dekalb County’s Transportation Coordinating Committee Member for ARC was not effective in getting the I-20 Rail Project included then perhaps we need to review who is on our team. As it has been stated, Dekalb has been contributing to MARTA for over 30 years. If we are satisfied with the results of our 30 years 1 cent contribution then we should not opposed the 1 cent referendum.
The 30yr, $61b Regional Transportation plan in PLAN 2040 provides new options for residents including expanded rail and bus transit and if voters approve the transportation referendum in 2012. Why was the I-20 Rail not included?
In order to get the attention of the ARC PLAN 2040 committees, Dekalb leaders should take a role in getting others counties to oppose the 1 cent referendum if rail for Central and South Dekalb is not included now. Otherwise our inept leaders will continue to fight battles after the war is over.