SNELLVILLE – There has been a group of residents and politicos meeting in City Hall periodically for discussion about issues facing the region.
The dinners, an initiative of the Atlanta Regional Commission, have brought policy discussion off the floors of congress, the statehouse and council chambers, and into a casual environment where talk is less formal – though it is summarized and sent to the ARC for review and to use to refine future plans.
It’s the type of environment where you’ll find congressmen, passing the salt to a probation clerk.
Free from the confines of bureaucracy, the group tackles issues of the day, such as the recent discussion of transportation in Metro Atlanta. Among those in attendance at the last dinner was Congressman Rob Woodall, Loganville Mayor Rey Martinez and Councilman Dave Emanuel, the dinner’s host.
“With traffic and road congestion in and around Atlanta being on the minds of anyone who has to travel in the area, it’s no surprise that mobility is one of the hottest topics discussed at Civic Dinners,” Emanuel said. “The conversation was lively. It was also very productive, as attendees discussed not only a variety of mobility problems and challenges, but potential solutions.”
Dinner guests agreed that dealing with myriad federal, state and county agencies is the most challenging aspect of implementing improvements in infrastructure, Emanuel said.
“Congressman Woodall cited the reconstruction of the I-85 overpass as an example of how quickly projects can be completed when a sense of urgency cuts through the typical red tape that causes seemingly endless delays,” Emanuel said.
When the conversation moved to mass transit, the most telling comment was, according to Emanuel, “Why is so much of the conversation centered around light rail and heavy rail?”
“Those are outmoded relics of the past,” he said. “Just as air travel just about killed long-distance passenger rail service, autonomous vehicles and bus rapid transit will have the same effect on commuter rail.”
Conversation moved from creating an internet portal to enable citizens to stay apprised of all transportation projects to MARTA transitioning to autonomous rail cars to improve service and reduce costs.
If you’d like to be a part of future Civic Dinners, email Emanuel at email@example.com. .