By Collin Kelley and Joe Earle

Now a new round of politicking can begin.

Atlanta voters on March 17 overwhelmingly approved a $250 million bond issue to pay for infrastructure projects across the city.

The money – to be raised without a tax increase, according to Mayor Kasim Reed – is to be used to repair bridges, provide new traffic signals, fix city buildings and pave streets.

But the final list of projects hasn’t yet been set in concrete by the city. While the great majority of the projects have been publicly identified, members of Atlanta City Council are to vote on the final list later this year. The list is available on the city’s website at infrastructuremap.org.

“It’s a work in progress,” City Councilman Howard Shook said. “I’m hopeful the day is not far off when we’re going to wrestle with the list and get all this nailed down.”

City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean told the Buckhead Council of Neighborhoods on March 12 that she was frustrated that a final list of projects wasn’t available before the
vote.

“I apologize to the voters,” Adrean said. “It’s been very frustrating to me. We have reached agreements on projects and the council members have their own internal lists of projects, but those were not updated on the [bond infrastructure] website for voters.”

But final list or not, voters overwhelmingly approved the plan, which includes money to repair city buildings. Turnout was low – only 20,762 voters, or about 7.5 percent of those registered, cast ballots – but on each of the two bonds, more than 85 percent of the voters cast “yes”
ballots.

Reed welcomed the vote, saying the results “demonstrate that Atlanta residents are ready to improve the look, feel and experience of our city above the ground.”

“The infrastructure bond will be the most consequential single investment we will make to repair our city’s roads, bridges, sidewalks and greenspaces without raising taxes,” Reed said in a statement issued by the city.

“I look forward to working with the Atlanta City Council to ensure that our essential projects get started right away. Today, for the first time in nearly 20 years, we have decided that we will do the hard things necessary to be first to the
future.”

Shook said he felt confident the council would hammer things out.

“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I think we’re going end up with a good list and get projects done that are really going to improve things for people.”

City officials have said the bonds are expected to be the first of several needed to address a nearly $1 billion backlog in projects.

Voters saw two items on the March 17 ballot: one for $187 million in bonds for transportation projects, and a second for $64 million in bonds to upgrade municipal facilities.

Adrean said each councilmember would get $5.2 million in their discretionary fund from the bonds to help with projects in their districts.

“There’s an opportunity to leverage dollars and partner on projects,” Adrean said.

Bonds win big

Atlanta voters on March 17 overwhelmingly approved a pair of bond issues to finance $250 million in infrastructure improvements.

Question one: To approve $187 million in bonds for transportation projects

Yes: 18,314 – 88 percent

No: 2,448 – 12 percent

Question two: To approve $64 million in bonds to upgrade municipal facilities.

Yes: 17,791 – 86 percent

No: 3,013 – 14 percent

Source: Fulton County Registration and Elections

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