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Rep. John Lewis Hails Atlanta Terminal’s Inclusion in Obama Fast-Track Plan

July 27, 2012
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today Rep. John Lewis, a central supporter of the Multimodal Passenger Terminal, celebrated its inclusion in the President Obama’s We Can’t Wait initiative which helps to fast-track important infrastructure projects in American cities through Washington red tape.  The Administration’s intervention can speed a project’s completion by as much as a year by shortening the Federal review and permitting processes.  

Rep. Lewis has been a key player in the development of the Multimodal Terminal vision and funding. (See attached graphic).  He gained the original authorization for the Multimodal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) in the 1991 Intermodal Surface Transportation Enhancement Act (ISTEA), and he was responsible for its first federal appropriation in that year. Those funds and a local match were used for design work on a terminal. 

“Congressman Lewis’s support for transportation projects in our region is unwavering and his initial and ongoing work for the multimodal project is unprecedented,” said A.J. Robinson, President of Central Atlanta Progress and the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District.  “Early on he grasped the concept of how impactful the multimodal terminal could be to our City, region, and State and has been running with it ever since.  Now that we are getting our local act together to support his pioneering efforts in Washington, the project takes on a new trajectory and perhaps the light at the end of the tunnel may appear sooner rather than later. We are grateful for the Congressman’s support.”

Through the efforts of Congressman Lewis and Senator Cleland, the 1997 Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) authorized and obtained an additional $20.1 million in funding for the MMPT.  In the FY02 appropriations bill, Congressman Lewis requested an additional $10 million for the MMPT in the federal transportation appropriations bill and an additional $14.2 million in TEA-21.”

The Transportation Board and I,” said Dana Lemon, State Transportation Board Chairperson, “are so grateful to Congressman Lewis for being such a forceful advocate for the MMPT project for so many years.  More than 20 years ago – in the 1991 federal highway authorization legislation, he secured the first federal funding for this facility.   For over two decades, he has worked tirelessly to help secure the necessary local matching funds to keep the MMPT dream alive.   His wise counsel and leadership over these many years have been invaluable.  We would not be here today were it not for John Lewis.” 

During consideration of the SAFETEA-LU legislation, Congressman Lewis secured an additional $1.6 million for the MMPT.  In October 2011, Congressman Lewis joined State, local government, and private leaders to celebrate the signing of an agreement for the initial development of a Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal (MMPT) and commercial center in downtown Atlanta.

“Congressman Lewis has shown unwavering support for the Multi-Modal Passenger Terminal in Atlanta,” said Dr. Beverly Scott, Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority General Manager.  “Since the early planning stages, he has demonstrated his commitment to bringing passenger rail back to Georgia and implementing multimodal transportation options.  He recognizes that the economic recovery of the Atlanta region, and Georgia, is directly related to investing in our transportation infrastructure.  His support and tireless efforts have been instrumental in bringing national attention to this project through its selection for the White House We Can’t Wait program.”

Rep. Lewis could not attend the program in Atlanta this morning, but he issued the following statement, read on his behalf:

Good Morning.  First, let me sincerely apologize for not being able to be here with you this morning. I had hoped that I would be able to rearrange my schedule in order to be here with you this morning, because the Multimodal Passenger Terminal is so near and dear to my heart.

Let me begin by thanking my congressional colleagues, the unparalleled Dr. Scott, and the MARTA team, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Central Atlanta Progress/Atlanta Downtown Improvement District, Mayor Reed, and the city of Atlanta.

I would like to thank this amazing coalition for their tireless work and commitment to this project.  We must also thank President Obama’s administration, and especially Secretary LaHood for their commitment and support to Metro Atlanta and the State of Georgia. 

The MMPT has spanned decades, generations of leaders, countless staff, planners, and advocates.  So many people are committed to seeing this project completed.  The City of Atlanta, GDOT, the State of Georgia, the GDOT Board -- especially Emory McClinton and Dana Lemon-- residents, and business leaders never gave up on this vision, on this dream. We began this process so long ago.  We had a shared vision of a centralized, transportation hub in the heart of downtown Atlanta – where rail, bus, and train would meet seamlessly. 

Over 20 years ago, I was proud to help secure the very first funds for the MMPT.  It is a model that should guide us through our many other transportation challenges.   And just a few months ago, we were here together celebrating progress on this long stalled effort. 

This terminal is an important key to our transportation puzzle.  I look forward to returning sooner rather than later to celebrate the MMPT’s unveiling here in the heart of downtown Atlanta. 

This project is an example of a true partnership, a team, a commitment to moving Metro Atlanta forward.  Thank you all for your hard work and determination to see this project through to the end. 

A few of you were here at the beginning, and many have joined along the way.  With this team, this coalition, this commitment to just getting the job done, I know that we will see the fruits of our labor sooner rather than later.