In her 2019 State of the County Address, Gwinnett County Chairman Charlotte Nash told an audience of about 900 business and civic leaders that Gwinnett County voters soon will decide the future of transit and the county for decades to come.
"Transit expansion is the next big decision for Gwinnett, akin to those made in the past regarding water, sewer, and roads," Nash said. "We have a unique opportunity before us to strengthen one of the most important foundations for a vibrantly connected Gwinnett — transportation and mobility."
She called the upcoming vote on transit expansion a "trailblazing moment – one that will set the path for Gwinnett's future."
Advance voting on the transit contract referendum begins Monday at the Main Elections Office, 755 Grayson Highway in Lawrenceville. Election Day is March 19. Additional advance voting locations will be open March 4 through March 15 in seven county parks.
Officials expect Gwinnett to add half a million more residents over the next 20 to 25 years, Nash said, "and roads alone cannot provide enough mobility choices now and in the future."
She described how the County developed its Connect Gwinnett: Transit Plan last year that would guide future transit service if voters approve the proposed transit expansion contract.
"The plan adopted by the Board last summer balances transit needs across the county with projected funding that includes proceeds from a one-cent sales tax that will be implemented on April 1 if the transit referendum is passed," Nash said.
Major components of the transit plan she discussed include 50 miles of bus rapid transit operating in dedicated rights-of-way, 110 miles of rapid bus service that operates partially in normal traffic, plus expanded coverage and frequency of local routes, door-to-door flex service in less-populated areas and expanded paratransit service.
"And, yes, the plan includes an extension of rail from Doraville to Jimmy Carter Boulevard and a multimodal transit hub that can easily accommodate transfers among rail, BRT, bus and other modes of transportation," Nash said.
She stressed that "our agreement allows us to leverage access to MARTA's expertise and overall system while protecting Gwinnett's interests."
Nash said the funds collected in Gwinnett must be spent for the benefit of Gwinnett, the transit projects built and operated for Gwinnett will be based on the Connect Gwinnett: Transit Plan and Gwinnett will have three seats on the MARTA board.
"As we begin Gwinnett's third century, the future of transit in the county will be determined by Gwinnett voters," Nash said. "In my opinion, transit can give this great county the final competitive edge we need, especially among younger age groups, to keep your businesses successful and Gwinnett vibrant."
More details about the proposed transit contract referendum and voting are available online at www.gwinnettcounty.com.
A video of the speech will air frequently on the County's government access cable channels of Charter, Comcast, and AT&T- U-verse beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. A text version of the speech and a handout highlighting the previous year's accomplishments can be found at www.gwinnettcounty.com.