The tax is estimated to fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements, 15 percent of which will be distributed back to counties and municipalities as discretionary funds.
“We face many challengers when it comes to paying for new capacity, particularly in the Atlanta region,” Deal said in a statement. “There are no easy answers, no secret pots of money, but it is imperative that governments build the trust of their people.”
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said she couldn’t say if the toll announcement would make an impact on how people will vote July 31, but the timing seemed to be purposeful.
“I just question the timing with the T-SPLOST vote coming up in a few weeks,” she said.
One of the slated projects that will be funded if the tax passes is the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange in Sandy Springs.
Mayor Jere Wood of Roswell, on the other hand, said he felt the announcement will restore the people’s trust in government, hopefully to the point they will vote for the tax.
“[The Ga. 400 announcement] is positive. I do support the T-SPLOST and I hope this will encourage people to vote,” he said. “People need to trust government. I’m pleased Deal is fulfilling a government promise to the people.”
In Roswell, the transportation tax dollars would go to a complete rework of the interchange at Holcomb Bridge and Ga. 400, as well as around $1.9 million annually for the 10 years that could go toward sidewalks, congestion relief and redevelopment support.
Milton Mayor Joe Lockwood said he hopes the removal of the toll would have an effect on the vote, similar to Wood’s hope for a restored confidence in government work.
“I would hope the citizens would realize elected officials in Georgia take a look at where the funds are going,” he said.
Milton’s city council has been briefed on using the estimated $942,000 annual discretionary funds for intersection improvements across the city.
Deal made it clear removing the toll is just one step in upcoming transportation changes.
“Moving forward, we’ll need to continue to work on long-term solutions to congestion in the 400 corridor,” he said. “And I look forward to doing that in a transparent fashion that commuters can trust.”
Garland Favorito, founder of the group VoterGA that petitioned the governer to take down the toll two days prior to the announcement, said he’s pleased with the governer’s plan but does not see it restoring enough trust in government, stating the toll could be taken out even sooner.
“If the intent is to restore public trust prior to the T-SPLOST vote, I think he needs to be more open and honest about why the state must continue to raid the Fulton County cookie jar for another year and a half,” he said in a statement.