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Lee Continues TSPLOST Charge

The Cobb Commission Chairman said Wednesday "the ball's in the state's court" regarding legislation to add I-75/575 toll lane project to July referendum.

Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee on Wednesday continued pushing for a major TSPLOST change -- and the legislation that would be required to make it happen -- even with the odds stacked against him. 

Speaking before the East Cobb Civic Association, Lee repeated his calls for a legislation that would permit alterations to the project list for the TSPLOST -- July's regional transportation sales tax referendum -- in the event of an unrelated decision by the state that could impact local transportation plans. 

(see accompanying video clip)

On Tuesday, Lee and other Cobb officials announced at the state capitol in response to a December decision by Gov. Nathan Deal to cancel plans to build reversible toll lanes in the I-75/575 corridor in Cobb and Cherokee counties. 

The proposal, backed by members of the Cobb and Cherokee legislative delegations, would shift potential TSPLOST funding earmarked for light rail for the toll lanes. But the TSPLOST process calls for the referendum project list to be completed in October.

In order to change that, state legislation is required, and House Speaker David Ralston he was reluctant to reopen the process.

"I don't fault the governor," Lee told Patch.com after the meeting. "But this is a timing issue."

A metro transit advocate told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution earlier Wednesday that the toll lane proposal "will prevent the referendum from passing." 

But State Sen. Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta), who attended Tuesday's press conference, told the AJC he won't support the referendum without the change. 

Lee, who supports the referendum, wouldn't speculate on whether Cobb voters would approve TSPLOST without funding for reversible toll lanes. "I don't have a good feel for that."

He said he hasn't spoken to Deal or Ralston since his press conference on Tuesday, and he's leaving it up to supportive lawmakers from here. 

"As I told Lindsey, the ball's in the state's court," Lee said.

Read more at The Marietta Daily Journal.

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