Sandy Springs voters will help decide the fate of Fulton County’s TSPLOST ballot question on Nov. 8.
The 0.75 percent, five-year transportation special local option sales tax would boost the total rate to 7.75 percent in Fulton, excluding the city of Atlanta, which has its own TSPLOST question. The Fulton revenues would be divided among cities by population, giving Sandy Springs $104 million to $119 million, the county estimates, to spend on a list of nine traffic-relief projects. Fulton also has its own list of county-wide projects.
The Sandy Springs project list includes, among other items, planning for alternative transit, extending sidewalks and multiuse trails, and upgrading traffic signals.
The TSPLOST list includes two projects that are controversial in their neighborhoods, but which also received broad support in TSPLOST meetings and surveys. One is turning the intersection of Mount Vernon Highway and Johnson Ferry Road into dual roundabouts.
The other is a longstanding idea to widen a two-lane section of Hammond Drive between Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive. Local neighborhood associations strongly oppose the idea, saying it would mean demolishing dozens of homes and that it has never been backed by a credible traffic study. In recent months, the city has geared up to perform that study and already bought several residential lots as placeholders in case the widening is determined to be a good idea.
The TSPLOST would help fund more property purchases as well as a study and design, including public meetings and at least three alternatives, city officials said. It does not fund any actual construction and city officials emphasized that decision has not been made.
The controversial projects gained general community support in public surveys and meetings about the TSPLOST question.
For more information, see the city’s TSPLOST web page at spr.gs/tsplost.
The following is the Sandy Springs TSPLOST list. Projects in the first two tiers are likely to be funded by project revenue, while Tier Three would get any leftovers. The order of projects within the tiers doesn’t matter, and not included is an administrative fee for county auditing of the projects. All of the projects are already planned and have gone through public processes; TSPLOST money would just speed them up.
■ Traffic efficiency improvements: a variety of intersection and traffic
signal upgrades, $18 million
■ Perimeter Center Last Mile Connectivity: Helping with an interconnected multi-use trail network that can double as right of way for potential alternative mass transit such as light rail or monorails, $8 million
■ Sidewalk program: $11 million
■ Mount Vernon/Johnson Ferry dual roundabouts: $26 million
■ Mount Vernon Highway multi-use path between Roswell Road and the Sandy Springs MARTA Station, $11 million
■ Hammond Drive widening design, $16 million
■ PATH400 extension: Fill in a “missing link” of the multi-use trail from Buckhead to a planned section on the Pill Hill hospital area that will be built as part of the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange reconstruction, $5.5 million
■ Roberts Drive multi-use path connecting Roswell Road and Island Ford Park, $5.5 million
■ Roadway maintenance and paving: $16.8 million
Pro and con debate
Pro and con sides on the ballot question were briefly debated at a Leadership Sandy Springs panel discussion about the TSPLOST, held Oct. 20 at the Wyndham Atlanta Galleria hotel.
Panelist Benita Dodd, the vice president of the conservative Georgia Public Policy Foundation, said that, while Sandy Springs has a good TSPLOST list, she thinks such tax boosts are bad in principle and noted it is a tax increase of more than 10 percent.
“Let me say first, I am not a fan of SPLOSTs. … The thing about SPLOSTs is they tend to become routine,” Dodd said, warning the project lists can become “populated with wants instead of needs.”
Sandy Springs City Manager John McDonough, another panelist, responded by pointing to the broader economic impacts of traffic congestion.
“I think in fairness, we ought to talk to the other side of that, which is the consequences of doing nothing,” McDonough said, warning of continued “gridlock, the lack of [transportation] infrastructure, the potential loss of jobs.”