Letter to the Editor:

By Leonardo McClarty, president, DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
and Terry Lawler, executive director, Regional Business Coalition of Metro Atlanta

From Five Points to Five Forks Trickum and from Panola Mountain to Kennesaw Mountain, metro Atlantans face daily challenges when traveling around our community.

And everyone has a personal story to tell: The missed dance recital, the late arrival to the ball game, the missed flight or even the melted ice cream on the car seat coming home from the supermarket.

And sometimes it’s an even bigger story.

Like the manufacturer who needed to move to a neighboring county to expand the size of its factory only to find that a large percentage of its existing employees quit because of the increased commute time.

Or the telecom company that realized only too late that its new call center wasn’t located near transit services which were primarily used by its employees to get to work.

Every day metro Atlantans, and metro Atlanta businesses, face increasing mobility challenges.

But Atlantans, and Georgians, have always responded to past challenges.

Some folks said we would never get the Olympics. But we did.

Some folks said the Atlanta Airport would never be the world’s largest or busiest. But it is.

And a lot of people said Atlanta and Georgia would never vote for a lottery to fund college scholarships, pre-K and educational technology. But we did that too.

Now some folks are saying we don’t need additional funds to make improvements to metro Atlanta’s transportation systems.

What would happen if we didn’t make those improvements?

You don’t really want to see that happen.

According to GDOT, commute times in metro Atlanta will increase dramatically, potentially doubling today’s commute times. In other words, a rush hour commute from Perimeter Center to I-20 could take over 2 hours in the coming years…on a normal day.

Metro Atlanta transit systems, which provide services to a quarter of a million riders daily, could be operating at half of today’s capacity, adding tens of thousands of cars to metro Atlanta’s highways every day and potentially devastating Atlanta’s tourism and convention business.

Tractor trailer truck traffic, which is growing at least 50% faster than automobile traffic, could double tractor trailer congestion on metro Atlanta’s interstates in the future.

Express bus services would have to be discontinued, adding potentially thousands of additional cars on metro Atlanta’s highways daily, especially in our outlaying communities.

Metro Atlanta would no longer have just traffic congestion. Metro Atlanta would have “Extreme Traffic Congestion.”

But like our past challenges, extreme traffic congestion in metro Atlanta can be overcome.

The Georgia legislature is presently looking at a regional transportation funding mechanism that would allow metro Atlanta residents the option to raise the needed funds to address traffic congestion and other future transportation needs.

Traffic congestion is not a Republican problem, nor is it a Democrat problem or an independent problem. It is everyone’s problem.

Our legislators have the ability to provide the citizens of metro Atlanta with the opportunity to avoid “Extreme Traffic Congestion.”

We need to let our legislators know that metro Atlanta voters need that opportunity, and we need it now.

 The Regional Business Coalition of Metropolitan Atlanta (RBC) is an organization of over a dozen local Chambers of Commerce throughout the metro Atlanta region. The RBC’s primary goal is to represent the interests of RBC Chamber members on public policy issues impacting our transportation, water and air quality and to advocate for solutions that improve metro Atlanta’s quality of life and economic vitality.