Nov 29, 2021 - News

Atlanta weighs how to spend infrastructure cash

Illustration of a bike with quarters for wheels.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Bicycling and pedestrian advocates are urging Atlantans to send their wishlist of bike lanes, park improvements and safer streets to Atlanta City Council representatives and city officials before a Wednesday deadline.

Why it matters: Atlanta's facing an infrastructure backlog and a growing desire (and need) for sidewalks and streets that serve bicyclists, pedestrians and people using transit.

Details: In September, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she wanted Atlanta voters to approve (or reject) two infrastructure packages totaling $700 million on the May 2022 ballot.

  • One $400 million bond would pay to build and improve parks, police and fire buildings and the arts, along with some transportation projects.
  • A renewal of the TSPLOST — funded by a 0.4-percent sales tax — would raise $300 million for streets, sidewalks, bike lanes and other transportation projects.

Two Atlanta City Council committees are scheduled to start considering the proposed project lists on Wednesday, the Atlanta Bicycle Coalition says.

Big picture: Roughly $120 million of the TSPLOST cash would fund new sidewalks and sidewalk repairs, the coalition says in an analysis of the proposed projects.

  • It would also allocate nearly $100 million to build much-needed safe streets along major thoroughfares across the city.

Yes, but: The proposed project list includes funding for fixing sidewalks along state routes, which the ABC argues should be maintained by the Georgia Department of Transportation.

  • In addition, the bond package would allocate $35 million for a proposed public safety training center that sparked backlash.

Advocates say they're disappointed by the lack of public engagement, previous infrastructure packages, and the fact that Bottoms and some of the council members approving the list are leaving office.

  • "These really should be tabled instead of rushed through and voted on by this council," Matt Garbett of Thread ATL, an urbanism advocacy group, tells Axios.

Axios has been unable to find any information online from the city or an archive of recorded public meetings.

  • Emails to Bottoms’ office on Wednesday and Sunday went unanswered.

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