By Daniel Silliman
About 60 business, civic and elected leaders gathered to hear details of a 30-year transportation plan for the Southern Crescent on Wednesday night.
They heard the Transit Planning Board's proposals and a plea to participate.
"We need everybody to learn as much about the plan as possible and become advocates for action on this concept for regional transit," said Eldrin Bell, TPB Board chairman and chairman of the Clayton County Commission.
Bell described the plan as "a big vision" and said "we need a big, bold effort to address our serious mobility concerns."
The meeting, called a transit vision briefing, was held at the Henry County Chamber of Commerce in McDonough, and is the first of four meetings meant to petition the necessary support of area leaders. Future meetings are being planned for Clayton, Spalding and Fayette counties, but dates have not yet been set, according to Cheryl King, TPB executive director.
The plan, called "Concept Plan 3," supports commuter rail from Atlanta to Griffin and proposes express and arterial bus lines running through McDonough, Jonesboro, Griffin, Fayetteville, Peachtree City, and crisscrossing northern Clayton County. The plan has been in the works since 2006 and is due to be completed sometime this year.
King said the concept focuses on alternate forms of transportation and should be understood as the response to a crisis of congestion and gridlock.
Implementing alternative transportation would cost an estimated $16 billion.
At the Wednesday night's meeting, attendees asked questions and raised concerns about how the plan could be paid for, and about the need to be prudent with massive investment in times of economic instability.
Bell has said that the plan is "revolutionary," in that it calls for regional thinking and demands that Southern Crescent leaders think beyond immediate needs and jurisdictional lines.
The meetings, King said, are a call for support and a call to participate in the solution.
"A lot of times, people just don't know what can be done to solve our problems," she said. "They say, 'I wish somebody would do something about that.' We're saying, come and be a part of it."
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