At state of county, Gwinnett chair touts MARTA as next big decision

By Tyler Estep

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Again and again in recent weeks, at open houses and community meetings and town hall gatherings, Gwinnett County Commission Chairman Charlotte Nash has preached the gospel of MARTA in Gwinnett.

She’s touted the county’s pending contract with MARTA and the plan that would guide transit expansion if Gwinnett’s historic March 19 referendum passes.

And on Wednesday, five days before early voting begins in that referendum, Nash did it again — this time as part of her annual state of the county address, over a fancy lunch in a fancy ballroom in front of hundreds of county leaders.

“Let me be clear,” Nash said. “I do not claim that our transit plan and contract are perfect. However, I believe that both are very good and we cannot afford to delay while we search for perfection.”

The decision that voters will face about joining MARTA is Gwinnett’s next big one, the Republican leader said, a fateful choice that’s akin to visionary decisions of yesteryear to create the sprawling water and sewer systems that enabled the county’s exponential growth.

Roads alone, Nash said, are not enough. And they will not be enough as that growth continues, as the county of nearly 1 million people welcomes another 500,000 or so in the coming decades.

Transit, she said, will give Gwinnett “the final competitive edge it needs.” She got a standing ovation.

Molly Bloom