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Will Cobb Tip TSPLOST Vote?

A new poll shows some softening in metro Atlanta areas long known for resistance to increasing public transit options.

Given the hostility at a in East Cobb to the proposed metro Atlanta regional transportation SPLOST, the results of a new poll suggesting changing attitudes in key suburban areas may be surprising. 

As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed the poll results Monday, the passage of the TSPLOST next summer could hinge on how the vote goes down in Cobb and Gwinnett.

Voters in the 10-county TSPLOST area will either approve or reject the penny sales tax across the board, regardless of the results in individual counties.

The Mason-Dixon results showed support for TSPLOST from 51 percent of voters polled, with slightly less than half in favor in Cobb. 

Both Cobb and Gwinnett famously refused to join MARTA when the public transit system was created in the early 1970s. Much of the current TSPLOST opposition in Cobb is over a proposed light-rail line between the Cumberland area and the MARTA Arts Station that would eat up most of Cobb's nearly $900 million share of the anticipated $6.1 billion in regional sales tax revenues over 10 years. 

But rapid growth the past 40 years, coupled with changing demographics, might also affect the vote. 

Most political leaders in Cobb who have spoken publicly on the TSPLOST have expressed some form of opposition, including all the candidates who recently qualified for the open state House District 43 seat in Northeast Cobb.

Cobb legislative delegation chairman Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) is proposing an alternative to the Cumberland station plan. Only state Sen. Doug Stoner of Smyrna, a Democrat whose district includes the Cumberland area, has come out in favor of light rail. 

While debates abound about whether light rail and whether it would have the ridership , longstanding suburban concerns about crime don't appear to engender as much emotion as they once did. 

At the East Cobb hearing at , the only question raised about crime and public transit was asked by a Boy Scout. 

But others attending the hearing said it's long overdue for Cobb to join the rest of metro Atlanta in linking up to light rail. 

The other line of opposition has come from Tea Party organizations, which are deeply critical even of the public proceedings leading up to the mid-October deadline for finalizing the draft list of projects to be included in the referendum. 

Tom Maloy, a board member of the Georgia Tea Party, wrote on Powder Springs-Lithia Springs Patch on Monday that last week's Atlanta Regional Roundtable public hearing was "contrived" and that Cobb residents are being "railroaded" (some pun intended) . 

Like many Cobb light-rail opponents who spoke up at Walton and elsewhere, Maloy called the Cumberland plan a boondoggle.

Whether that station is ever built may depend on how many people agree with Maloy. 

Layton James September 29, 2011 at 02:07 PM
If you, as a taxpayer, want to subsidize light rail for eternity, ($7.00 per rider you pay) the rider pays $2.50, then use your vote. ARC (Atlanta Regional Commission) is not focused on moving traffic rapidly thru Atlanta, their intent is more economic development for CIDs. Follow the money. ARC cannot complete the project in 10 years, which is one of their criteria. The GDOT plan does not meet it. We do not have the population density to support rail traffic in Cobb county and it is VERY optimistic/unwise to adopt the mindset " build it, they will ride." Merchants cannot expect very many commuting rail riders to hop of the train and come shop with them. Anyone alive today, should not expect to find a functioning light rail system within the next 35 years and, if the idea goes away.....that's a good thing.
Bruce September 29, 2011 at 08:55 PM
So a bunch of unelected bureacrats at the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Chamber of Commerce demand that we in Cobb tax ourselves for 10 years to pay for a light rail TROLLEY (not train) for Atlanta-Fulton. You gotta be kiddin'. Read the Marietta Daily Journal article just published "Price tosses cold water on Fed help talk for light rail II" by Jon Gilloolhy. See what you think. Read more: The Marietta Daily Journal - Price tosses cold water on Fed help talk for light rail II

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