What you need to know about the ATL Mayoral candidates

mayoralcandidates

The election is less than a month away and the number of candidates has barely dwindled. To help keep you informed on the issues that you care about, below we have compiled candidates responses from interviews conducted by Committee for a Better Atlanta. We have pulled their responses on transportation and infrastructure to let you know where they stand and what they will do if elected Mayor:

*Please note: any unmentioned candidates either did not participate in the questionnaire, dropped out the race already, or did not mention anything notable about the issues.

Peter amanPeter Aman
“In the Atlanta I envision, we harness the coming population boom, merge it with our natural resources and leverage both to achieve even greater economic growth. We will attract jobs by becoming an even better place to do business, for those small and large. We will re-orient our economy to prepare for the future so that when technologies like Autonomous Vehicles further develop, they develop here. That growth also happens on the supply side. As mayor, I will invest more in workforce development and re-training to ensure Atlanta remains a city where everyone can thrive. Specific top priorities to make this a reality include a focus on public safety, mobility, education, economic development including arts and culture and green space, and improvement of basic city services. My website includes more detail on my policy proposals than any other candidate’s campaign page. I invite you to visit peteraman.com to review the depth of our approach and our thinking.”

“I have already mentioned the near $14 billion in transportation and infrastructure spending the next mayor will help shepherd. This includes monies for MARTA expansion and enhancement that voters approved in the Nov. 2016 referendum – including a potential federal match, $6 billion for the expansion of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, completing the Atlanta Beltline loop, and more. I will work to ensure your tax dollars are spent effectively and transparently so that we can remain a mobile, vibrant city. In addition to the $14 billion that’s already in the pipeline, we must find funds to further improve our pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure so that as we become a denser city, we have safe alternative modes of transportation to single-occupancy vehicles, particularly for short trips.”

“As a city, we must learn to think regionally. Atlanta must find a way to make it seamless to transport in and out of the city. Rather than always assuming a competitive posture with our neighbors, we can cement our leadership role by making Atlanta the “center of the spoke.” It’s not always about winning business from out of state. That means being the model in how we treat our workers, pay for our first responders and livability. This push towards improved livability spans multiple policy areas. It involves areas like improving education and public safety, or increasing our greenspace and pedestrian options. The re-zoning and pending development of downtown Atlanta offer an excellent opportunity to focus heavily on livability before the density fully arrives. Growing downtown and south downtown will be a unique challenge for the next mayor.”

“Next, on the continued theme of livability, we must complete the issuance and completion of the Renew Atlanta Infrastructure projects passed in 2015. There are a number of major laudable infrastructure projects coming online or already underway in Atlanta that I could talk about, but there is the tendency in Atlanta to focus only on the biggest projects. We must first do the less glamorous things right. Through this bond, and the one passed in 2016, we have that chance. This city is underserved when it comes to sidewalks. Cascade Heights is an excellent example of the need to design and implement safe sidewalks and access for pedestrians. The city is underserved when we talk about parks, too. Most are surprised to know that Atlanta scores so low nationally when it comes to park acreage per capita. That is because, as mentioned, we have a number of large projects completed or under way. But we have not focused on smaller parks. These may not make it on a tourist map but they make all the difference in the world to a community that has no central gathering place, no place to go if you want to walk your dog. And while we talk about expanding all modes of transit to make Atlanta less car dependent, we have to acknowledge this will take time. An incredibly impactful near-term project for the city is to centralize our street lights onto a single grid for maximum efficiency. It’s a quick, cost-effective fix that has been demonstrated all over the country to cut down on commutes in a meaningful way”

CathywoolardCathy Woolard
“I will embark immediately on an expansion of our public transit system and mobility infrastructure, including sidewalks and bike lanes that provide connections to strategic areas. While creating alternatives to driving, I also will focus on coordinated traffic light technology coupled with Don’t Block the Box markings in key intersections to reduce traffic congestion. I’ll develop a comprehensive plan and specific, target goals for growing housing choices for people – from those experiencing homelessness, to young adults just entering the workforce and those who want to live in walkable environments, to seniors aging in place – coordinated with this enhanced transportation infrastructure”

“I will effectively advocate for regional transit expansion and the improvement and maintenance of our public transit infrastructure. We will quickly move to build five, already-approved new transit lines simultaneously, so that Atlantans have more options to live near public transit and can use it to get where they need to go, rather than sit in traffic, improving everyone’s quality of life. Also to reduce traffic congestion, I will immediately implement coordinated traffic light technology coupled with Don’t Block the Box markings in key intersections.”

“Build 5 already-approved transit lines simultaneously I have proposed a plan to build a 40-mile streetcar grid, covering the Atlanta Beltline loop and other connected routes, in eight years through leveraging innovative public-private partnerships and federal dollars. 2. Complete the Atlanta BeltLine Atlanta’s 21st century public realm starts with the Atlanta BeltLine, the project that my office kicked off when I was Atlanta City Council President. I worked to build an inclusive, grassroots coalition to support this new concept for public space and mobility that was inherently focused on people. As Mayor, I will engage surrounding neighborhoods in a meaningful way and fully build out the 22-mile loop of the Atlanta BeltLine, ensuring that the project fulfills its promise to connect people and places to the benefit of everyone. 3. Connect the city regionally through solutions like high-speed rail, MARTA expansion, and a planned bike/trail network Being able to travel within the city limits is not enough. Atlantans need connections regionally, across metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. A regional bike and trail network is planned and, as Mayor, I will do everything I can to push for a timely, aggressive completion schedule. Additionally, I will champion and support proposals for expanding MARTA and for regional rail, especially high-speed rail, that can connect Atlanta to cities across Georgia and the South.”

CeasarmitchellCeasar Mitchell
“Atlanta can never truly move forward if its residents are stuck in traffic. I will create a culture that is less dependent on cars but will still allow residents to move about the city easily. In 2016, voters overwhelmingly voted to impose a half-penny sales tax for transit expansion and enhancements. The tax is estimated to collect approximately $2.6 billion, which would allow MARTA to make major investments in transit infrastructure, including high-capacity rail improvements, new rail stations, new buses and routes, and adding more frequent services and new bus routes. As Mayor, I will work with MARTA to expand rails within the city and to the suburbs around the city. I will also work with MARTA to add transit options to the Beltline.”

“The three most important transportation/infrastructure projects that should occur immediately are as follows: A. Infrastructure Improvements. The T-SPLOST, which took effect on April 1, 2017, added an additional four-tenth of a penny to fund about $300 million worth of projects over a five-year period. Through the T-SPLOST, I will conduct an immediate assessment of all the city’s streets, roads, sidewalks, and bridges to prioritize repairs and concentrate spending according to the greatest need. B. Light Synchronization. One of the component of the T-SLOST is light optimization/synchronization for all of the city’s traffic light systems to improve the flow of traffic and keep vehicles moving. C. MARTA Expansion. I will work with MARTA and the city’s regional and state partners to develop transportation strategies and solutions to reduce traffic and improve connectivity and mobility to make Atlanta more attractive for start-ups and companies desiring to relocate.”

johneavesJohn Eaves
“The City won’t grow if people spend all their time stuck in traffic. We cannot prosper unless we can move people and goods throughout the city efficiently and effectively. The first order of business is to eliminate gridlock and improve our transportation system. The Eaves Administration will invest in roads and bridges; add bicycle lanes and sidewalks; and of course, support MARTA’s continued expansion both inside the city and throughout the Atlanta Region. We will not wait until the next overpass collapses to act. “A stich in time saves nine”—and saves lives.”

“Regional transit is paramount to the success of Atlanta and the region. If studies are correct, the population will continue to rise. That equals more cars, more traffic, more gridlock. We must find creative ways to fund and build more transit stations, light rail and bus service so that more people will feel comfortable using rapid transit to ease up on congestion and the adverse health effects that come with cluttered roads and highways in Atlanta.”

“It’s been more than a decade now since Mayor Franklin unleashed her “Pothole Posse” and Atlanta’s roads, streets, and bridges are now in need of major repair unlike never before. It shouldn’t take I-85 collapsing before we begin to do something. We got lucky this time, that no one was hurt, but we may not be so lucky next time. I will put together a task force with the job of coming up with a 50-year plan (similar to the water/sewer 50-year plan) that aims to overhaul all our major roads and bridges that currently do not meet state and federal safety standards.”

“We’ve seen a surge of redevelopment in the Downtown and Midtown areas but staggered development in the city’s neighborhoods. Atlanta has become a tale of two cities! Downtown and Midtown development in businesses, housing, restaurants and entertainment facilities is going strong and moving those areas in the right direction. However, we need sustainable urban and community development, good educational opportunities, jobs, job training, housing, and blight remediation for our neighborhoods. We need our neighborhoods to thrive with the same energy that is transforming Downtown and Midtown. It is my plan to spur economic development through rebuilding the infrastructure of our neighborhoods that have been left behind, and left out. We
will rebuild neighborhoods, brick by brick, block by block. And, we will do it without gentrifying seniors and others out of their neighborhoods.”

kwanzahallKwanza Hall
“MARTA expansion execution a) start with buses b) expand the streetcar to the Beltline and turn operations to MARTA and c) S-Concept is my idea but should be vetted to ensure maximum support from state and feds d) North Avenue Smart Corridor take lessons learned and bring to other key corridors”

“Multi-modal station – Greyhound and Megabus, Amtrak, and future commuter trains should have a common station. I hope Clayton Commuter Rail happens and I hope Gwinnett and Cobb will join MARTA and further strengthen our regional transit infrastructure.”

“Continued expansion at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and Aerotropolis”

KeishaLanceBottomsKeisha Lance Bottoms
“Transportation I will continue to work with MARTA to expand rail throughout the city, as well as other stakeholders to expand sidewalks, bike lanes, and walking trails. I will also seek creative solutions to address our transit funding issues. For example, I will call upon the ARC and MARTA to explore working with private rail line owners for the use of commercial rail lines by our transit system.”

“The three most important projects are: 1. Expansion of heavy rail into DeKalb County – DeKalb County is one of the largest within the metro area and expansion into the soon to be annexed corridor will be a tremendous benefit for the entire region. 2. Expansion of light rail into Southwest Atlanta – Light rail into Southwest Atlanta will help create much needed connectivity and balance for the city. A large part of workforces live within the area and currently finds themselves stifled by the lack of transportation options. 3. Sidewalks connectivity throughout the entire city – Walkable cities are important for a number of reasons and help to improve the health and property values of residents.”

RohitRohit Ammanamanchi
“Top priority: Rapid restoration of everything that is broken, along with redesigns of last century designs up to today’s standards of resiliency and sustainability. This includes: • Connectivity improvements • Walkability • Transit that is faster than driving (cooperation with MARTA to streamline routes with infrastructure improvements that optimize for buses along transit corridors) • Strategic PPP to get a lot more stuff done • All the broken sidewalks get fixed, missing sidewalks added, and curbs redesigned to work better for everyone, from walkers to drivers to the environment as well. This can be accomplished quickly and cheaply with the use of rubbery asphalt ramps, pervious pavement for drainage, and the use of actual brick or stone paths so that individual stones can be replaced when they are inevitably damaged. • Crime goes down simply because of top-down and bottom-up changes in culture that bring us all closer as a city and a community. Mutual respect between people that are different from each other reduces animosity and violence. To cite specific things, I would prioritize police training on conflict de-escalation and prepare all the infrastructure and manpower necessary for the success of the pre-arrest diversion initiative. • I would finally get us going on housing the homeless in actual houses, as it has been proven to cost less for the city, and is considerably a better living situation than homeless shelters, especially for women and children.”

“Transportation: We have been assessed to have a billion dollars in maintenance backlog. Renew Atlanta only had 250M and didn’t all go towards backlog. TSPLOST has 379M and most of it is going towards backlog, but not all (notably, 66M is going just towards ROW purchase for the Beltline). I would prepare a second round of the Renew Atlanta Bond in 2020 with shovel-ready projects that focus on the most neglected parts of Atlanta. I would also detail updated design codes for new designs that allow rapid implementations of sustainable practices that have been shown to work in other cities. Also specifically, I would scrap the old outdated zoning policy and start a new one based on overlay districts that provide requirements and prohibitions depending on distance from a facility or neighborhood. For example, parcels or roads within ¼ mile of a school, transit corridor, or park must allow for a continuous sidewalk. Buildings within a certain neighborhood must conform to certain architectural standards to help preserve community character. I won’t belabor the point here.”

“Armour Station: It would be a major transit hub, connecting the MARTA heavy rail, Beltline, Clifton Corridor Lightrail, and potentially Amtrak. It would also add resilience to the Armour district by providing another way of transporting people in and out, where the only point of entry currently is Armour Drive. Boone Station: This would provide connectivity to the Beltline, but more importantly, it would fill a gap where there is a large distance between two stations in a very transit-dependent part of Atlanta. North Ave Streetcar/Trolleybus: This is the project that would be the first major transit investment this generation that truly connects the east and the west without disruption. I mention the trolleybus because it would be 10x cheaper to build than the streetcar, and is even more viable now that the City just repaved an entire two mile stretch of North Ave without putting in the streetcar rails.”