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Gwinnett County Traffic photo by Valerie via FlickrThere’s always a big time gap between conception of an idea and its completion. That’s true in social interactions in getting people to agree, in marketing of a new product, and certainly in construction projects.

An old idea is getting more attention in Gwinnett, Ga. More people are recognizing the need for the county to have a modern transit system, that is, to include some sort of rail system, whether it be light rail, perhaps street cars, or heavy rail, either connecting to the MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) system, or even an extension of MARTA itself.

For sure, if Gwinnett voters were to approve a MARTA referendum, or any kind of rail transit referendum, as early as the 2016 General Election, realize how long it would take to see the completion of construction of such a system. Those involved in transit say that it would take at least six years, if not 7 to10 years, before the lines would be running. We’re then talking the year 2025.

That’s a long time to keep bottled up in traffic.

Should the approval of voters for such a system be delayed beyond the 2016 election, by another two to four years, then the rail transit system could not start until 2027 or 2029!

That’s why it is important today, in the year 2015, for serious discussion to begin looking at how people are going to be getting around Gwinnett in the future.

Our own reading is that right now, in 2015, a majority of Gwinnettians would vote for a rail system. After all, they are tired of being gridlocked and delayed on our highways. And since the last vote on MARTA in Gwinnett, back 25 years ago in 1990, nearly 500,000 people have moved into the county. Many of these new residents were used to rapid transit in their former communities. They can’t understand how Gwinnett is so far behind other communities in providing rapid rail transportation.

Recognize another element: rapid transit is obviously a tool for economic development. Firms considering moving to Gwinnett for expansion want to locate in a county where their employees can get around reasonably. Not having a transit system in Gwinnett is one reason new companies coming into Metro Atlanta might choose Fulton or DeKalb, or even Clayton County instead. We can make the job easier for those seeking to attract new firms to the county by working on transit now, in 2015.

Remember, too, that those people who will eventually use a rapid transit line in Gwinnett won’t necessarily just be people from Gwinnett. Residents in other parts of Atlanta will use rapid transit to go to their jobs in the expanding Gwinnett workplace. And yes, since rapid transit is partially supported by fares, they’ll be helping to pay for the system like Gwinnett riders do.

You can perhaps think of your own reasons for wanting rapid transit in Gwinnett.

We urge business leaders to come together to lobby for an early vote on rapid transit in the county. We urge the Chamber of Commerce and the county commission to take steps now to begin to pull people together to help bring solutions to our overcrowded highways.

To delay is to only exasperate the transportation problem. We need action beginning in 2015 to move this idea forward.

Time’s a’wasting.

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Editor's Note: This story originally published at the Gwinnett Forum. Image: Gwinnett County Traffic photo by Valerie via Flickr and used under a creative commons license.
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County, http://www.gwinnettforum.com, and Georgia news, http://www.georgiaclips.com.