TAKE ACTION for safe streets

Share your feedback on the City of Atlanta's TSPLOST and infrastructure bond project list by Wed, Dec 1st

Now that public meetings have ended, we expect the TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and bond to be considered by two City Council Committees on Wednesday, December 1. The bond will go to the Finance/Executive Committee (Jennifer Ide, Chair) and the TSPLOST to the Transportation Committee (Andre Dickens, Chair). We need your help during this hectic time of year — please contact your City Councilmember with your thoughts on these listswhat projects are most essential to you and what should be changed?

Project Lists

Explore TSPLOST & bond project lists

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Maps by Quadrant

Explore TSPLOST & bond projects by location

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Take Action

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Background & Recommendations

Learn about our advocacy to fund safe streets and recommendations for this TSPLOST and bond

Background & recs

What's Next?

Read about the legislative process and contact your councilmember

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Explore the Legislation

Read the full legislation Atlanta City Council is considering

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Background & Recommendations

Our 2021 policy agenda calls for the City of Atlanta to renew the TSPLOST (Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) and to prioritize sidewalks and street safety improvements. We want the City to select projects based on equity and safe access to transit — starting with High-Injury Network communities — and to consistently and transparently report on its progress. 

On November 16, 2021, the City held the first of 8 public meetings about a proposed infrastructure fund that combined a bond (basically, debt incurred by a governmental entity to pay for needed projects and repairs) and TSPLOST (a sales tax residents pay on goods and services that is dedicated to transportation). 

Photo: Screenshot from ATLDOT public meeting

If you missed the meetings, it may be because the administration announced them with less than 48 hours’ notice on the week before a holiday. The administration and councilmembers have been reviewing project lists since August, but this is the first time the public is seeing them. 

We’ve compiled our comments below based on the public meetings and a review of the list, which we received in response to our open records request. We will add to these observations and recommendations the week of November 29th, but we are sharing our initial impressions and the projects now so residents can take action as soon as possible.

There's a lot to like on these lists

If budgets represent priorities, these lists clearly indicate a new prioritization of sidewalks and safer streets. Our goal for the $300 Million TSPLOST was a 50/50 split between these essential categories. This list comes close. And when combined with the bond’s transportation projects, our goal of $150M for each category appears within sight (but would require some adjustments, which we’ll get into in a moment). 

  • $117.6 Million in TSPLOST for new sidewalks and sidewalk repairs. There is also an additional $20 Million in the bond for ADA curb ramps. 
  • $95 Million for safer street projects including some that have been on City lists for years, such as Lee St, Whitehall St, Courtland St, Ralph McGill Blvd, and Monroe Dr. The emphasis on street safety improvements could do a great deal to connect existing infrastructure for people walking, riding transit, or using wheelchairs, bikes, scooters, etc.

The bond includes projects that would build the second phase of two corridors we’ve long advocated for: $15M for a DeKalb Ave multi-use trail and $10M for a Cascade Road multi-use trail, which the Atlanta Department of Transportation (ATLDOT) confirmed will connect Avon Ave with Ralph David Abernathy Blvd. 

Photos: Screenshot from ATLDOT public meeting

Last but not least, the Atlanta Department of Transportation’s use of Safety-Equity-Mobility metrics to prioritize projects should be applauded and adopted for project selection going forward.

Image: from ATLDOT public meeting presentation

Image: from ATLDOT public meeting presentation

We also have some critiques — and recommendations:

1. The City’s presentation indicated some “$3 Billion in infrastructure funding needs over the next 20 years.” With that staggering figure in mind, removing or adjusting the figures below could pave the way for more sidewalks and safe streets, infrastructure that is in wide demand throughout the city.

  • $75 Million of TSPLOST is being left on the table: The sales tax being proposed is 4/10 of a penny, but state law allows up to 5/10, or one-half. Given the backlog and sense of urgency, wouldn’t it make sense to seek the maximum funding available? The City estimates a cost of $1 Million/mile in sidewalk costs, so in theory that could be 75 miles of additional sidewalks!
  • $35 Million in the bond for the hotly-debated “Public Safety Training Facility” (aka “Cop City”): City Council should vote on funding this facility separately, not package it into the bond along with parks and sidewalks. 
  • $39 Million for TSPLOST program overhead: Consultants can help implement projects when professional staff capacity is not available, but over-reliance on consultants is expensive. Increasing ATLDOT’s workforce will make the best use of public dollars while maintaining the focus on essential safety infrastructure. 
  • $12 Million for sidewalks on state routes in the TSPLOST: the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) should repair sidewalks on its state-owned routes. We’d like to see the next administration raise this issue with GDOT’s leadership. There’s no good reason why sidewalks should be considered less essential to maintain than roads.
  • $15 Million is proposed simply for “The Arts" in the bond: City Council should have more information before voting on a sum this large. We've requested more detail but have not received anything concrete so far. 

 Photo: Screenshot from ATLDOT public meeting 

2. Projects in the northern part of the NW quadrant focused heavily on resurfacing. Because repaving can increase speeds, thereby making roads less safe, these projects should include safety improvements in tandem with resurfacing. 

3. There are several trail projects that don’t appear to be fully funded. Partially funding a project often means long delays in building it. If the City believes these trail projects are important enough to be on the list, they should be fully funded or have a clear plan to cover the remainders. 

4. The 2015 Renew Atlanta bond legislation didn't specify what bond "premiums" could be used for, which is how taxpayers ended up providing an estimated $19 Million for the bridge over Northside Drive that wasn’t on the original project list. (A bond premium is created if interest rates fall, causing the price of the bond to rise.) This time, the bond should clearly state how any bond premiums can be spent. 

5. The project descriptions are very high-level. Providing more detail and clarity would help the public provide better feedback and know what to expect from the projects. In addition, a summary of how many miles of sidewalks and protected bike/LIT (light individual transportation) lanes will likely be built through these infrastructure funds should be shared with the City Council and public.

6. Individual council district discretionary funds in the bond should be restricted to transportation-related projects, given the tremendous backlog. The 2015 Renew Atlanta Bond also set aside funds for unspecified projects in each council district. After voters approved that bond, some councilmembers spent their district’s funds on sidewalks or other projects, but other districts still have funds remaining, six years later. (Find out how the money was spent in your district in this ATLDOT quarterly report.)

Take Action

We expect the lists to be considered by two City Council Committees on Wednesday, December 1. The Bond will go to the Finance/Executive Committee (Jennifer Ide, Chair) and the TSPLOST to the Transportation Committee (Andre Dickens, Chair). We need your help during this hectic time of year — please contact your City Councilmember with your thoughts on these lists: what projects are most essential to you and what should be changed? Our 2021 policy agenda calls for the City of Atlanta to prioritize sidewalks and street safety improvements with these funding opportunities. Please help ensure that happens! 

Contact City Council

Legislation

1. BOND: 

21-R-3928 (58) ****A RESOLUTION BY COUNCILMEMBER CARLA SMITH TO INITIATE THE CALLING OF AN ELECTION TO DETERMINE THE ISSUANCE OR NONISSUANCE, BY THE CITY OF ATLANTA, OF GENERAL OBLIGATION PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT BONDS IN AN AGGREGATE PRINCIPAL AMOUNT SUFFICIENT TO FUND PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT CAPITAL OUTLAY PROJECTS CURRENTLY ESTIMATED TO COST APPROXIMATELY $400,000,000.00. THE PROPOSED GENERAL OBLIGATION PUBLIC IMPROVEMENT BONDS ARE EXPECTED TO CONSIST OF (1) A SERIES OF BONDS TO BE ISSUED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYING THE COSTS OF THE ACQUISITION, CONSTRUCTION, RECONSTRUCTION, RENOVATION, REPAIR, IMPROVEMENT, CRITICAL CAPITAL MAINTENANCE AND EQUIPPING OF PUBLIC STREETS AND TRAFFIC CONTROL INFRASTRUCTURE AND EQUIPMENT, CURBING, STORM WATER DRAINAGE, STREET NAME AND DIRECTIONAL SIGNAGE, BRIDGES, VIADUCTS AND RELATED PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO STREET LIGHTS, SIDEWALKS, BICYCLE LANES AND TRANSIT STOPS, SO AS TO IMPROVE THE PEDESTRIAN AND TRANSIT ENVIRONMENT, THE COST OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990, FOR SUCH IMPROVEMENTS AND OTHER COSTS INCIDENT THERETO; AND (2) A SERIES OF BONDS TO BE ISSUED FOR THE PURPOSE OF PAYING THE COSTS OF THE ACQUISITION, CONSTRUCTION, RECONSTRUCTION, RENOVATION, REPAIR, IMPROVEMENT, CRITICAL CAPITAL MAINTENANCE AND EQUIPPING OF MUNICIPAL FACILITIES, INCLUDING BUILDINGS, RECREATION CENTERS AND OTHER FACILITIES AND RELATED PUBLIC IMPROVEMENTS AND THE COST OF COMPLIANCE WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990, FOR SUCH FACILITIES AND IMPROVEMENTS AND OTHER COSTS INCIDENT THERETO; TO DIRECT THE APPROPRIATE OFFICERS AND STAFF OF THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE TO DETERMINE THE DATES AND THE MAXIMUM RATE OF INTEREST THE BONDS, IF ISSUED, SHALL BEAR AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE MATURITIES OF THE BONDS AND OTHER PARAMETERS; AND TO DIRECT THE APPROPRIATE OFFICERS AND STAFF OF THE LAW DEPARTMENT TO PREPARE A SUPPLEMENT TO THIS RESOLUTION, WHICH SUPPLEMENT SHALL CONSTITUTE THE ELECTION CALL RESOLUTION, TO INCLUDE SUCH PARAMETERS AND ALSO PROVIDE FOR THE LEVY AND COLLECTION OF AN ANNUAL TAX FOR PAYING THE PRINCIPAL OF AND INTEREST ON THE BONDS, IF APPROVED BY THE VOTERS; TO PROVIDE THAT ANY OR ALL OF SUCH BONDS MAY BE MADE SUBJECT TO REDEMPTION PRIOR TO MATURITY; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BONDS, IF APPROVED BY THE VOTERS, MAY BE ISSUED, SOLD AND DELIVERED AT ONE TIME OR IN SEPARATE SERIES FROM TIME TO TIME; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. (This legislation is a dual referred item and will be forwarded to Committee on Council pending a Finance/Executive Committee recommendation) (Held 9/29/21 by the Committee for further review)

 

2. TSPLOST:

21-R-3927 (46) - ****A RESOLUTION BY COUNCILMEMBER CARLA SMITH CALLING FOR THE

IMPOSITION, BY THE FULTON COUNTY COMMISSION, OF A TRANSPORTATION SPECIAL PURPOSE LOCAL OPTION SALES AND USE TAX (“TSPLOST”), TO FUND TRANSPORTATION PURPOSES AND A REFERENDUM ELECTION THEREON; TO APPROVE THE SUBMISSION OF A LIST OF TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS AND PURPOSES TO FULTON COUNTY; TO SPECIFY THE AGGREGATE MAXIMUM COSTS OF SUCH PURPOSES TO BE FUNDED BY THE TSPLOST; TO SPECIFY THE MAXIMUM PERIOD OF TIME THE TSPLOST WILL BE IMPOSED; AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES. (This legislation is a dual referred item and will be forwarded to Finance/Executive Committee pending a Transportation Committee recommendation) ►(Held 9/29/21 at the request of the department)

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