Gwinnett Commissioners Approve Contract With MARTA, Referendum to Follow in March 2019

Council Members:

This week kicked off with exciting news that Gwinnett County was calling a Special Meeting to consider a MARTA contract and to bring the contract forth for future voter approval.

To a crowded room Wednesday morning, the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 (Hunter dissenting) to approve the contract between Gwinnett County and MARTA, and voted unanimously to set the referendum for the March 19, 2019 special election.

According to Gwinnett County, the agreement reached stipulates that MARTA will operate and expand Gwinnett’s transit system in accordance with the recently approved Gwinnett Transit Development Plan. Furthermore, under the contract (pending voter approval in March), MARTA would operate Gwinnett’s bus system as soon as practical, and would move forward with implementing the other modes of transit targeted in the Transit Plan, such as BRT, while beginning planning and engineering on more capital-intensive transit modes, such as heavy rail.

If voters approve the contract, a 1-percent sales tax will be assessed starting July 1, 2019, to help cover the cost of transit operations, improvements, and equipment.

In a piece for the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Michael Paris, Council President & CEO, called the vote “historic for Gwinnett”, noting that “Gwinnett has always been a leader in the region.” He went on to say “a ‘yes’ vote for transit expansion in Gwinnett could lead other counties in the metro region to get on board.”

Relatedly, on Thursday the MARTA Board of Directors voted to delay approval of the contract between MARTA and Gwinnett, citing the need for more time to review.

Council Members will recall that this unique provision for Gwinnett to join MARTA was codified in House Bill 930. Gwinnett was empowered to contract with MARTA for heavy rail, light-rail, BRT, or other transit services. Additionally, the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners can appoint three residents to the MARTA Board if the contract is approved.

The Council for Quality Growth commends Chairman Nash’s leadership bringing transit expansion to Gwinnett County voters, and looks forward to working hand-in-hand with the County to ensure a favorable transit outcome in March 2019.

Click here to view the Gwinnett County press release regarding Wednesday’s Special Called Meeting.

Click here to get up to speed on House Bill 930.