A new poll commissioned by the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce shows 63% of likely Gwinnett voters support an extension of MARTA into their County. The poll, conducted in March for the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce, also shows that 33% of likely voters are dissatisfied with the county’s current transit options. The poll results show an increase by ten points over a straw poll conducted during the 2008 primary elections, where MARTA expansion was favored by 53% of voters.
Support for MARTA expansion into Gwinnett was strongest among those aged 18-54, although all age groups favored the idea. In addition, a majority of those polled would support a one percent sales tax, which would be a requirement to join the MARTA system.
According to Gwinnett Chamber President and CEO Dan Kaufman, the results of the survey will be used to start a discussion on transportation options and economic development. Kaufman was quoted in a press release as saying,
The issue of transportation has been a major topic of study and consideration throughout the region and the state this year. Our goal was to take a snapshot of the view of the Gwinnett community on a specific issue related to the overall topic of transportation. The results will be imbedded as part of future community-wide discussions on a comprehensive approach to economic development and the transportation system we will need to support it.
Conventional wisdom has held that while Gwinnett residents might favor some form of rail transit, there was opposition to joining the MARTA system. That may still be the case, with only 50% of likely voters having a favorable opinion of the transit agency.
The possibility of bringing transit to Gwinnett has been explored in depth by two of the county’s Community Improvement Districts. The Gwinnett Village CID, which includes much of the southern portion of the county along Jimmy Carter Boulevard, and the Gwinnett Place CID, which includes the Pleasant Hill Road area near the mall, commissioned a study in 2008 to determine the feasibility of light rail running from the Doraville MARTA station along the I-85 corridor to Sugarloaf Parkway.
Gwinnett Village CID Executive Director Chuck Warbington is encouraged by the poll results.
Planning to be a community of tomorrow means we can no longer look at vehicular transport as the only viable transportation solution for suburban counties. As a community, it is important that we have an open and honest conversation on how we will attract 21st century jobs with a transportation network that was primarily planned and built in the 20th century. Based on the results of this poll, the community is ready for that discussion.