Georgia 2018: An early split in governor’s race over mass transit

A MARTA train makes its way north past Ga. 400 traffic near Sandy Springs on a typical afternoon rush hour. Ben Gray, bgray@ajc.com

There are three announced Republican candidates in the race for governor – and three starkly different positions on transit.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who launched his campaign on Sunday, has emerged as a forceful advocate of mass transit. Saying the I-85 bridge collapse was a “wakeup call,” Cagle said he would order a 10-year transportation plan that would explore whether to funnel state funding into MARTA.

“First we have to determine where the needs are and what the consumers are willing to pay, and we have to be willing to put the needed resources behind the build-out,” Cagle said in an interview. “State funding is certainly not off the table.”

Somewhere in the middle of the divide is state Sen. Hunter Hill, who jumped in the race last week. He said he would look to invest tax dollars in “high-return activities” but that he’s not certain if adding or extending fixed-rail lines is the right step.

“I’m not going to focus just on transit, but certainly transit is something I want to focus on. What I can tell you is that we’re going to deliver results,” said Hill, who represents a Buckhead-based district. “Transit is going to be a part of that. We’ve got to double if not triple our investment in transportation, and that’s going to be our goal.”

On the other side of the debate is Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who entered the race in March and recently sounded a skeptical note on state funding for MARTA’s system.

“I think we’ve got to continue to be innovative — and also have those local communities buying in to what they’re doing,” Kemp told the Gainesville Times. “People in Atlanta clearly will pay for congestion relief, but I’m not so sure that people outside of Atlanta will.”

More: Georgia’s next governor: Who is running in 2018

And: Georgia 2018: Cagle opens campaign with show of force


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