‘Faster Than A Trip Up The Connector at 5pm On Friday’

I was told the other day that legislators are, in fact, working right now on transportation issues. Digging around a little more, I talked to a State Representative today who said he expects a comprehensive transportation plan to make it through the legislature “faster than a trip up the connector at 5pm on Friday.”

The approach will be regional and local — devolving transportation planning outside the DOT and out of central planning in Atlanta. In short, it’s going to be a very federalist plan letting elected people closest to the voters make decisions with voters having final say.

It all sounds intriguing, but it is also very, very early with much subject to change. The goal, however, is to come up with a comprehensive plan, have key lawmakers briefed by mid-December, get buy in from key players, and then rush it through the legislature in the first few days. Why rush?

I’m told it’s not that the House and Senate leadership are afraid of reaction to the plan. They intend to get out there aggressively to talk about it at some point. But, they are already seeing that budget and fiscal issues are going to explode and the bulk of the session is going to be spent dealing with a shaky financial picture. The necessities of transportation need to be dealt with, so they are trying to get it all done as soon as possible.

That’s probably the best approach all around.

19 comments

  1. Icarus says:

    So long as the plan actually “works”, and isn’t designed to punt responsibility elsewhere, then I’m for the express lane checkout of transportation this sesson. A real solution is long overdue, and I hope this is it.

  2. Chris says:

    Dear gawd. If there is anyone I have less faith in than the GDOT, its the Gwinnett County Commission. The only roads built in this county will be on land bought from folks who given Bannister and his cronies financial blowjobs.

  3. Sleepy Tom says:

    The legislature should keep its ignorant paws off this matter until every single one of them can recite just what the heck each of these entities is currently responsible for:

    GRTA
    GDOT
    ARC
    MARTA

    • Game Fan says:

      Unless I’m sadly mistaken the only real government agency in your list would be the GDOT. Of course for your garden variety corporatist this just ain’t exciting enough. I mean, how fun is building roads and bridges, when you can’t get in on the financial action?

  4. Progressive Dem says:

    “make it through the legislature “faster than a trip up the connector at 5pm on Friday.””

    That’s not very fast.

    The more people you speak to in the legislature, the more versions you hear of what’s going to happen with transportation. And those same legislators will offer different versions to different audiences.

    The option with the most support is: a regional tsplost with County Commissions and a couple of city governments given a chance to opt in/out; a list of potential projects to be funded; the project list comes from the participating local governments (ARC brokers the plan); a penny sales tax with a sunset; a little money going back to local government for local projects; a regional referendum; an agency other than DOT managing the projects; transit is eligible for funding; a local oversight committee of citizens; no Congressional balancing; no reduction in DOT money; no increased contribution from DOT.

    • Sleepy Tom says:

      “a penny sales tax with a sunset;”

      Nice, “conceptual” idea…but as non-existent as the pot o’ gold at the end of the rainbow.

  5. Jeff says:

    Not what I was told from someone in the know this morning. My source didn’t want me talking about what he told me though, so keeping my mouth shut other than to note that this is NOTHING like what he told me.

  6. ByteMe says:

    Anyone want to bet that underneath all the hoopla is a power-grab so that the legislature — and not regional transportation agencies — gets more control of money earmarked for DOT projects?

    Maybe I’m cynical, but it just seems like their modus operandi.

  7. Debra says:

    Let the Atlanta area raise their own money to fix their traffic problems. Don’t bring legislation to the floor screwing up the rest of GA (regional TSPLOST) because Atlanta has a problem. How about a Special District Tax just for the Atlanta area and leave the rest of the state alone.

    Anybody hear of any local ESPLOST or SPLOST losing lately? Most people don’t take the time to vote and the rest of us are stuck paying for the crap that only a few want and will benefit from. Those in power (legislators) know this and they get a PASS because the “public” votes a tax on themselves.

    • The metro area contributes more to the State treasury than it gets from the State budget. If we ever could truly “succeed from the union” and leave each other alone, I’d take that opportunity in a heartbeat and celebrate with an ice cold Sunday beer. Hell, I’d be thrilled if our relationship with the sticks could simply be revenue-neutral.

      • Doug Deal says:

        Steve, this is a statistical quirk that in no way would continue if such a situation came about.

        Simply put, Atlanta cannot feed itself. The money spent on roads and schools in other parts of the state would still need to be built and paid for in order to have people capable to fulfill the needs of Atlanta. Instead of it showing as tax distributions, instead the cost of everything coming into Atlanta would sky-rocket and your celebration would be short lived.

    • Progressive Dem says:

      Debra, that – the ability to tax themselves for regional transportation projects – is precisely what metro Atlanta leaders have been asking for.

        • Dave Bearse says:

          Yes, there may well be some sort of state involvement or oversight in the regional tax that will be grounds for a small cut of any regional tax to be funnelled through GDOT to South Georgia.

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