Lee Proposes TSPLOST Changes
The commission chairman wants to redirect some money for a Cumberland light rail station for East Cobb road projects.
With the deadline for the final project list looming for next summer's Atlanta regional transportation SPLOST, Cobb commission chairman Tim Lee is trying to make the referendum more palatable to county voters.
Especially voters in prickly East Cobb.
The Marietta Daily Journal is reporting that at Wednesday's Atlanta Regional Roundtable meeting, Lee offered an amendment that would cut $300 million in funding for a proposed light rail station in the Cumberland Mall area and use some of it for Roswell Road widening and improvements in East Cobb.
Other redirected funds would overhaul the Windy Hill Road interchange with Interstate 75 and create a bus route from Acworth to Midtown Atlanta.
David Pendered of The Saporta Report wrote late Wednesday afternoon that the proposal by Lee, along with pro-transit amendments offered by his counterparts in Atlanta and DeKalb and Clayton counties, "reflect local politics."
The Cumberland Station, which would link Cobb to the MARTA Arts Center Station in Midtown Atlanta, would get the bulk of the $1 billion targeted for the county if the TSPLOST referendum is approved by voters in 10 counties next July.
In Cobb, vocal opposition to light rail has been a touchstone of the discussion about the TSPLOST project list, which must be completed by mid-October. Friday is the deadline for submitting amendments.
At a recent town hall meeting at Walton High School, several East Cobb residents complained not only about the Cumberland light rail cost (currently listed at $856 million) but also about the lack of projects slated for the East Cobb area.
Details about the Roswell Road improvements were not available late Wednesday, but continuing the road-widening project currently underway between the South Marietta Parkway and Old Canton Road is on Cobb DOT's long-range funding wish list.
East Cobb commissioner Bob Ott, one of several Cobb public officials critical of the light rail project, has said it "is not a Cobb project."
Ott has previously suggested that TSPLOST funding would be better spent on I-75/Windy Hill changes.
State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), the Cobb legislative delegation chairman, also has pushed for road improvements instead of light rail. Lee's proposal also is a nod to Setzler's request but wouldn't divert as much money away from light rail as Setzler has wanted.
The bus route, which will cost an estimated $110 under Lee's proposal, also would be a practical alternative to link commuters in the heavily traveled Cobb Northwest Corridor with Atlanta.