Advocates for people with disabilities are looking at how projects in Tuesday’s transportation tax referendum could improve the mobility and accessibility of public transit systems.
The Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities and the Statewide Independent Living Council of Georgia said on Thursday the tax would provide more transit options.
In Richmond County, $7.55 million was allocated for operations and maintenance of Augusta Public Transit. That money could be used throughout the 10-year tax collection period, if the vote passes.
Several other projects on the tax list include infrastructure improvements and intersection and pedestrian crossing upgrades.
“Our goal is first and foremost about living independently and having the transit tools that allow us to be part of our community and not be treated any differently than fellow Georgians,” said Pat Nobbie, the deputy executive director of the Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Brian Mosley, an employee of Walton Options for Independent Living who is blind, said he is undecided on his vote for the tax. Although Augusta needs to improve its accessibility, Mosley wants assurance that the tax money will help people with disabilities.
“Sometimes, these decisions are not made with our best interests at heart,” he said, adding that people with disabilities should be included in the decision making processes.
Walton Options is a nonprofit organization in Augusta that has not taken a position on the transportation tax vote.
Marie Young, the advocacy coordinator for Walton Options, said the Augusta bus system needs expanded routes and operating hours. Inaccessible sidewalks and bus stops also cause limitations, she said.
“Pedestrian improvements is really what we need more than anything in Augusta right now,” Young said.
Willie Jones, another blind employee of Walton Options who rides the bus frequently, said more bus routes can help people with disabilities get back into the workforce by having better access to employers. He plans to vote in favor of the tax hoping those improvements will be funded.