An image from a TV advertisement in support of a penny sales tax to pay for transportation projects.

Atlanta residents stuck in their cars going to and from work will soon hear a voice on the radio telling them how they can stay out of traffic jams and spend more time at home.

Citizens for Transportation Mobility, a group backed by local companies and private donors, on April 4 showed the media its upcoming ad campaign in support of a penny sales tax for transportation projects. CTM has raised $8 million it plans to spend on radio spots and television ads to encourage voters to support the tax on July 31.

“Traffic in metro Atlanta is tied up in knots,” the voice on the radio ad says, over the sounds of car horns. “People can’t get to work. Companies can’t move goods, killing jobs and hurting our economy. But if we started to untie the knot, by unclogging a few roads and adding more transportation options, we’d have less traffic, more jobs and a stronger economy. Let’s untie the knot. Vote yes for the July 31 Regional Transportation Referendum.”

The TV spot is the same message, with a picture of roads crisscrossing each other to make an enormous knot.

The sales tax, known as the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is expected to generate $8.5 billion to pay for 157 regional transportation projects.

Paul Bennecke, a campaign strategist hired by CTM, said the image of the knot rang a bell with focus groups used to develop the ads.

“They said, ‘This is exactly how I feel’,” Bennecke said. “It’s an image I think people can relate to.”

The transportation sales tax faces opposition from anti-tax groups. Bennecke said even the opponents agree traffic is in a crisis, but he said the sales tax is the best way to resolve it.

Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell, who hosted the press conference at the coalition’s office, said the traffic has had a definite impact on Buckhead.

“We’re beginning to feel fenced in,” he said. He said the sales tax is, “something that will make a tremendous difference in our lives.”

Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt wrote for Reporter Newspapers from 2011 - 2014. He is the founder and editor of Decaturish.com