“Georgia Tea Party” Opposes T-SPLOST – Does That Matter?

September 14, 2011 9:45 am

by Todd Rehm · 101 comments

The “Georgia Tea Party” has announced its opposition to T-SPLOST in what might be another hit for the massive transportation tax proposal. I say “might be” because I can no longer keep up with the proliferation of groups claiming the “Tea Party” mantle, so I don’t know if this is a large organization able to turn out hundreds of volunteers, or a couple weirdos in their parents’ basement with an internet connection and a working knowledge of HTML.

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with a reporter for a legitimate media outlet who asked me how to accurately describe the Tea Party in ten words or fewer.

The best I could come up with was “an organic political movement whose membership is largely rank-and-file Republican.” I counted the “rank-and-file” as one word. Then I offered to draw some Venn diagrams to further explain. But that doesn’t do the job of helping citizens, elected officials and reporters tell who has credibility within the movement, and thus speaks for thousands of voters, and who is just a self-appointed leader without followers.

In any case, the Marietta-based Georgia Tea Party’s leaders are opposing TSPLOST:

“We are opposed to the TSPLOST in principle because we don’t believe that nine other counties and the city of Atlanta have the right to impose a tax increase on the citizens of Cobb County,” said J.D. Van Brink, who chairs the group’s board. “We believe that the law itself is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repealed.”

The Marietta Daily Journal has been reporting extensively on public opposition in Cobb County, which seems to center on the high percentage of Cobb’s share that would go to a single transit project.

This highlights the fundamental problem with moving the vote in order to draw more Democratic voters into the pool in order to pass TSPLOST in Metro Atlanta. The more you rely on Democratic voters and voters from Inside the Perimeter, the greater bargaining position their elected officials will have, and the more the project list will tilt toward transit and ITP improvements. When this happens, you accelerate the rate at which suburbanites decide that while transportation needs are pressing, they’d rather pass on the penny.

SOGTP September 14, 2011 at 9:58 am

Democrats support TSPLOST, so do RINOs.

Max Power September 14, 2011 at 10:13 am

And once again massive ignorance stands in the way of progress. We need rail in Cobb County, but not just a mid-town to Cumberland line but a line out to Marietta, Kennesaw, and Acworth and a line connecting Cumberland to Perimeter.

Douglass Talley said he doubted 200 people would use the rail line in Cobb, let alone 22,000.

That’s just stupid. Mr. Talley has obviously never been on MARTA’s North Spring line in the morning. Here’s the thing we can’t pave our way out of our traffic woes. Big roads destroy communities, people know this that’s why people fight road widening so strongly.

Rambler1414 September 14, 2011 at 10:42 am

In addition,
widening roads from County Line to County Line is an inefficient use of tax payers dollars.

How many of us live and work in the same County?
What happens when you 6-lane a road in Cobb County that turns into 4 when you reach Fulton, Cherokee or Paulding? You’ve got a built-in bottleneck.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 11:21 am

Cobb county already has all the rail it needs. If there was truly a need, let private developers build it… I’m sure it would be profitable, right? What happens in 10 years when the line is built and there’s no more money for M&O? How much are my property taxes going to have to go up to continue to subsidize these “needed” lines? We’re already subsidizing CCT buses all over town. How much more money must the government steal from me for you to be happy?

bgsmallz September 14, 2011 at 11:37 am

Private Companies…solving all the world’s problems since …?

As always, David, I appreciate your willingness to be 100% devoted to your position, but…

Need does not equal profitability which also does not equal required return on investment for venture capitalists…so this idea that if there is a need there will automatically be a private solution is poppycock. (h/t-buzz for ‘poppycock’)

It seems the point you are trying to make is that government infrastructure spending is not appropriate unless is is 100% user subsidized. I disagree. I see a US, Georgia, and Atlanta economy in 2011 that would not be possible or imaginable if we had spent the last 200+ years waiting on private companies to provide infrastructure solutions.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Ok, let’s look at this from another angle since we obviously disagree on what should be done privately vs what should be done through theft. Why is mass transit a need? Mass transit is nothing more than a want. We do not need it and many do not want it. Why should everyone be forced to subsidize this want?

Max Power September 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm

You need only to try and get from Acworth to downtown in the morning to find the need for off-road mass transit. This morning it took drivers 30 minutes to get from Hwy 92 to the north loop. We need a transportation alternative. Furthermore, trains will run on electricity produced by in large for now by domestically produced coal, and hopefully in the future by clean nuclear power. It’s a win win, just because the government subsidizes something doesn’t automatically make it bad.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 1:20 pm

The fact that it took drivers 30 minutes to get from one place do another does not mean transit is a need. Were those drivers able to eventually get to their destination? Yes. So there are a few solutions here:

1. Leave your house earlier or later when traffic has thinned out. Traffic backs up at about the same time every day, right?

2. Move closer to work. Don’t take a job an hour and a half away from home or buy a house an hour and a half away from your office and then complain that it takes forever to commute.

3. Find a different job. (Same reasoning as #2.)

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

“1. Leave your house earlier or later when traffic has thinned out. Traffic backs up at about the same time every day, right?”

People are ALREADY leaving earlier for work everyday. Have you been out on the interstates at 5 am when motorists start flooding out onto the roads and the traffic builds up in intensity until the freeways look like parking lots at 6:30 am?

Have you seen the early birders out on the roads driving like maniacal bats-out-of-hell trying to beat the bulk of the rush during the 5:00 hour?

I don’t necessarily disagree with you, though, I guess that employers could maybe stagger their start times a little bit, if possible, to help with traffic somewhat to a limited degree, but just simply encouraging motorists to leave home earlier in and of itself is not a solid plan to dramatically help improve congestion and mobility in a major population center of nearly SIX MILLION people with a VERY LIMITED road network.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 8:21 pm

“2. Move closer to work. Don’t take a job an hour and a half away from home or buy a house an hour and a half away from your office and then complain that it takes forever to commute.”

Not a bad idea, but with the bulk of employment being in five regional centers in Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, Perimeter and Buckhead, if everyone who worked in those population centers actually tried to live there then that would drive (Intown) Atlanta’s population density through the roof, making real estate prices go up dramatically with it and driving some of those same people (and development) back out into surrounding areas in search of much cheaper housing options.

Though, I guess that the increased density around a few Intown employment centers would make mass transit REALLY popular.

Wouldn’t the concept of that increased density make Atlanta just like those dense, transit-dependent Northeastern cities that alot of OTPers don’t want Metro Atlanta to be like?

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 8:54 pm

“3. Find a different job. (Same reasoning as #2.)”

I can’t argue with you there as many people are motivated by superlong commutes and really bad congestion to do just that…If that is an option if the jobs are available to do so.

Though in this particular era of (government-regulated) high unemployment and an anemic job market changing jobs is not necessarily an available option for most people as the type of job that a person does or specializes in may not likely be available close to near where they live.

On top of that, most people are happy just to have ANY job in this era no matter whether it’s one mile or one-hundred miles away.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 9:17 pm

Speaking of one-hundred miles away, there was an article in the AJC about 10 years ago about an employee at the now-erstwhile General Motors plant in Doraville who used to commute close to 130 miles each way (2 1/2 hours each way if no problems) between his home in Murphy, NC and his job at the GM plant in Doraville.

This guy made this commute every workday for over 30 years and stated that he did so because there absolutely were no jobs that paid that much near where he lived near the small rural mountain town of Murphy in the isolated extreme Southwestern corner of North Carolina.

The guy also stated that he never desired to move closer to his job in Metro Atlanta because he wasn’t a “city slicker” or a suburbanite. He was a country boy, a mountain man, Southwestern North Carolina was where he was born, reared and bred, it was where his family and friends and his life was.

That is an extreme example of the personal reasons why people make longer commutes, but the fact is that people have their own reasons why they make longer commutes.

In an major metropolitan area/urban area of six million, people are going to commute long distances between their homes and their employment and no matter how much we may personally disapprove, we’ve got to account for that fact in our regional infrastructure planning efforts.

We just can’t make telling people “move closer to your job” and “find a different job” while doing nothing while congestion becomes increasingly more miserable and mobility becomes increasingly impossible the continued centerpiece of our regional transportation plan.

Why that’s almost as bad as Sonny Perdue telling Georgians who wanted liquor sales on Sunday “plan ahead and buy it on Saturday”.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Here’s a mass transit option for you… Acworth to downtown…

http://www.xpressga.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=95&Itemid=75

There… problem solved… your solution already exists, no need for rail. :-D

bgsmallz September 14, 2011 at 2:36 pm

David-

I think that is a really reasonable argument. Frankly, I’m not sure it is a ‘need’ in the sense that you are defining ‘need.’

But here is my #1 argument…beyond existing options, cost-benefit analysis, and whether subsidizing anything is a good idea, the biggest reason I think it is a need is because of competition with other cities and regions. Dallas, Charlotte, and other areas are able to market against Atlanta when competing for employers by simply pointing out the gridlock, the lack of transit options, and the lack of any sort of comprehensive plan in the future.

The fact that we have a better organized tea party and refuse to ‘steal’ for transit isn’t going to be a suitable counterargument…it hasn’t been a suitable counter argument. You have to invest in order to net a return…the Atlanta region understood this and did this masterfully over several decades…sometimes without the help of the governments of Cobb and Gwinnett among others.

I’m afraid we are missing the forest for the trees on this one.

I certainly have other arguments for why we ‘need’ or maybe better said ‘should want’ transit infrastructure, but that to me is the big one.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 3:13 pm

Okay, great… let’s look at Charlotte, shall we? Charlotte sees an average daily ridership on Lynx of roughly 20k people. At $1.75 per trip, that’s $35k. Assuming average ridership is the same 365 days a year, that’s $12.775M at full fare, assuming nobody receives a discounted rate or buys a monthly card and uses it more than 40 times for a monthly card or anything.

With a final cost of $462.7M, that means it’s only going to take Charlotte 36.22 years to pay for that one small rail line. And that’s assuming M&O is $0. I dunno… maybe it’s staffed by volunteers who not only check for tickets but also pedal a bunch of bicycles to generate the electricity the system uses. :-/

Scott65 September 14, 2011 at 6:55 pm

If fares were all that counted towards paying for the line, you might have a point, but in Charlotte there is also massive development (by private companies no doubt) that has been built around transit stations. Thus, a much larger tax base, and increased revenue…vastly increased. So, this argument at least does not hold water for ya

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 8:38 am

Great, you have the numbers on the increased tax base?! I couldn’t find them in the minute or so that I looked for them. It’s hard to do math with “whatever the property values were, I’m sure they increased”.

Jobasaur September 15, 2011 at 9:03 am

http://beta2.tbo.com/news/news/2010/sep/26/charlotte-rail-leads-to-millions-in-development-of-ar-28272/
“Since light rail opened in Charlotte in late 2007, $288.2 million in development near light rail stations has been completed and $522 million is under construction, despite a veritable halt in growth since the 2008 recession. The Charlotte Area Transit System projects private investment development stations will reach $1.45 billion by 2013…”

And that’s not to mention all of the health-related cost savings. Every car we get off the road reduces air pollution. Just as one example for Atlanta:
“During the 1996 Summer Olympics Games in Atlanta, when peak morning traffic decreased 23% and peak ozone levels decreased 28%, emergency visits for asthma events in children decreased 42%. At the same time, children’s emergency room visits for causes other than asthma did not change. These results suggest that efforts to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality can also help improve the respiratory health of a community.”
Considering yearly costs of asthma in the US are about $18 billion, that’s no small result. And that’s not even getting into the effect of air pollution from motor vehicles on cardiovascular health, or the health costs associated with crashes.

Max Power September 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm

I know this is shocking but not everyone has the luxury of setting their own drive times, moving closer to work, or finding a different job.

Our roads are at capacity and we need a rail solution. I know you think that there’s a free market solution for everything, but reality doesn’t work that way.

you September 14, 2011 at 2:54 pm

“not everyone has the luxury”
AHH…here we go. It’s a luxury not a choice to leave close to work. My guess is you bought a house futher out (like everyone else) so you could get more bang for your buck but now gas prices are so high that you need help.

you September 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm

sorry for the typos…I can’t type. :)

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm

If you can’t change your drive time, move closer to work or find a different job then there are Xpress buses to get you downtown. The rail solution proposed in the TSPLOST for at least the next 10 to 15 years at a minimum is still going to require driving to the Galleria / Cumberland area. As you said, it took 30 minutes to get from Hwy 92 to the North loop. Let me ask you something… how long did it take you to get from 285 to where you were going downtown? Was the traffic worse ITP or OTP?

Furthermore, you say you can’t modify your drive times? Why not? You can’t show up at work early? Perhaps get a gym membership somewhere close to your office downtown and go workout before going into the office? Your company doesn’t allow overtime?

So which is it… did you buy a house that far from work or did you take a job that far from home? Did you just expect traffic in Atlanta to get better as it continues to develop and grow?

Furthermore, why are you not able to ride the Xpress bus? Isn’t that exactly what you’re looking for? A mass transit system that will get you downtown from Acworth? What’s wrong with riding the bus where you can read or work or whatever on the bus?!

Max Power September 15, 2011 at 9:38 am

David, get on an Xpress bus in Acworth and you’ll find you’re sitting in traffic just like everyone else. You see trains don’t sit on the highways in traffic running their engines and not going anywhere. That’s why when you’re roads are packed a train is a good alternative.

This is obviously very tough for you to understand so here’s some visual aides.
Bad
http://radcollector.com/columns/reneerenee/files/2010/04/traffic-jam.jpg

Good
http://www.inside-lane.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/East-Corridor-DIA-Train-Simulation-570×317.jpg

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 9:43 am

Then as suggested below, they should do as MARTA does on GA 400 and drive in the very right hand lane / emergency lane and avoid the traffic.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 7:45 pm

“Here’s a mass transit option for you… Acworth to downtown…There… problem solved… your solution already exists, no need for rail.”

But what happens when the commuter bus gets stuck in super-long traffic delays in that twice-daily clusterf*ck on I-75 because of the prerequisite serious traffic collision, car fire, bus fire, rainstorm. snowstorm, ice storm or even the much-feared light mist?

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 8:33 am

Do like the MARTA buses do on GA 400. The very right hand (emergency) lane is a bus lane. The MARTA bus bypasses all the traffic that is sitting still.

Max Power September 15, 2011 at 9:40 am

Don’t travel out there much do you David.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 9:50 am

Nope, I moved about 11 months ago and decided I didn’t want to drive an hour and a half each way in traffic so I took my own advice and found a new job 14 miles from the new place and don’t even have to get on an Interstate. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible for the buses to emulate the operations of the MARTA buses does it Max?

Max Power September 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

Why doesn’t everybody drive in the emergency lane, heck why restrict ourselves to roads let’s all go cross country?

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 11:38 am

Everybody driving in the emergency lane is not quite the same argument as the occasional transit bus driving in the emergency lane. How about a rational argument against it? My argument is that MARTA already does it. Why can’t an Xpress bus?

Max Power September 15, 2011 at 12:38 pm

Because it’s against the law, prevents emergency vehicles from using the lane, and it doesn’t address the key problem of reducing the amount of traffic by providing off street alternatives.

I can’t decide if you are serious or not.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Actually, MARTA and Xpress commuter buses are officially permitted to use the right-hand emergency lane on Georgia 400 north of I-285 only, during morning and evening rush hours when traffic is often at a complete standstill

Though the bus service does still experience frequent minor delays when a vehicle is disabled in that emergency lane and the buses have to try and merge into traffic in the right travel lane to get around the stalled or burning vehicles and accidents moved to the shoulder, which is quite often, though tow trucks are kept close by to attempt to quickly remove problem vehicles during those hours of use of the shoulder by the buses.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 1:10 pm

“Because it’s against the law, prevents emergency vehicles from using the lane, and it doesn’t address the key problem of reducing the amount of traffic by providing off street alternatives.”

Somehow our politicians managed to pass a law for the T-SPLOST, I’m sure they can handle something as simple as allowing mass transit to use an emergency lane. As “The Last Democrat In Georgia” noted… it works fairly well on GA 400. I don’t know if you just don’t believe me or if you just don’t want to believe me.

“I can’t decide if you are serious or not.”

Ask the people who sit on 400 if I’m serious whether or not MARTA buses use the emergency lanes.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm
David Staples September 15, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Furthermore, see Georgia Code – 40-6-50-c:

http://www1.legis.ga.gov/legis/2003_04/fulltext/sb256.htm

http://law.justia.com/codes/georgia/2010/title-40/chapter-6/article-3/40-6-50/

“(c) For purposes of this subsection, “transit bus” means a bus used for the transportation of passengers within a system which is operated by or under contract to the state, a public agency or authority, or a county or municipality of this state. If the commissioner of transportation permits the use of emergency lanes of a controlled-access roadway by transit buses in the metropolitan Atlanta nonattainment area, the commissioner shall designate on which controlled-access roadways the use of emergency lanes by transit buses may be allowed and upon such designation the commissioner shall only permit the use on that emergency lane of a transit bus with a seating capacity of 33 passengers or more. Transit buses authorized to use the emergency lanes under this subsection may be operated on the emergency lane only when main lane traffic speeds are less than 35 miles per hour. Drivers of transit buses being operated on the emergency lanes may not exceed the speed of the main lane traffic by more than 15 miles per hour and may never exceed 35 miles per hour. Drivers of transit buses being operated on the emergency lanes must yield to merging, entering, and exiting traffic and must yield to other vehicles on the emergency lanes. Transit buses operating on the emergency lanes must be registered with the Department of Transportation.”

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 1:27 pm

The Georgia 400 North corridor in which buses are actually permitted to use the emergency shoulder lane during heavy rush hour traffic jams (an idea that they actually got from Europe) is unique here in the Atlanta Region in that no existing freight rail corridor parallels the highway like they do Interstates 20, 75 & 85 (& Interstates 575 & 985 & GA 316 out farther away from the city) which means that future commuter rail service on an parallel existing freight rail corridor is not an option for the GA 400 corridor due north out of Atlanta.

The road is also somewhat unique in that maximum or even substantial road widening is not necessarily a politically-viable option for much of the length of the expressway because of the parkway-like nature of the road (the road is actually officially named Turner McDonald Parkway) in which residential development backs up relatively close to the right-of-way to the road, especially on the section of the road that runs through the City of Sandy Springs north of I-285 up to the Chattahoochee River.

The four lanes in each direction between I-285 and McFarland Parkway is likely to be the widest that the road may ever be.

A fifth lane in each direction could conceivably be added to the roadway, but given the lack of a parallel freight rail corridor, that fifth lane in each direction would likely be heavily dedicated, if not exclusively dedicated, to some mass transit of some kind, like bus rapid transit, express buses and commuter buses.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 3:18 pm

“Nope, I moved about 11 months ago and decided I didn’t want to drive an hour and a half each way in traffic so I took my own advice and found a new job 14 miles from the new place and don’t even have to get on an Interstate.”

At least you have put your money where your mouth is, taken your own advice and set an example.

I spend alot of time in a medium-sized Midwestern city of just under two million where 14 miles one-way is considered a long trip across town.

Whenever I hear the locals complaining about how “long and miserable” their 10-mile commute “across town” is, I tell them about the 20, 30, 40, 50 and even up to 100-mile long one-way commutes through virtual gridlock everyday in larger cities like Atlanta, LA, etc, and it very quickly puts into perspective their relatively much smaller and painless local commutes.

Heck, while being in this smaller Midwestern city, I’ve even had the privilege and the luxury of being able to commute to and from a job in the same zip code and loved every minute of it, especially being able to sleep in, not having to leave home until 15 minutes before work and only needing 1o minutes to drive there with virtually no traffic and only a railroad crossing to worry about….Ahhh, the life….Eat your heart out, Atlantans….

Engineer September 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm

Remove fuel and road subsidies, then take a look at the comparison in price, it might surprise you. Tons of money is spent every year on maintaining and improving roads across the state. Current rail costs are a literal drop in the bucket compared to costs from our current road systems.

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I’m all for removing fuel and road subsidies. Raise fuel taxes to pay for road projects. Raise transit fares to a graduated fare system similar to BART in San Francisco. Install toll booths on I-20, I-75 and I-85 going into the city to create a congestion zone similar to London. The higher fares and tolls on the ITP interstates could pay for transit expansions with such things as a maglev that goes around 285 and expanding any MARTA line that doesn’t quite reach 285 however far it needs to to get to that 285 train.

SOGTP September 14, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Here Here David.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 7:50 pm

“What happens in 10 years when the line is built and there’s no more money for M&O?”

Do you really think that it would be that long before the line ran out of money with an almost useless $2.00 fare?

That’s quite optimistic…

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 8:31 am

That’s using the math from a Cobb County official Faye DiMassimo that I had read in an MDJ article. She said the line could start seeing operation in 6 years and had 4 years of M&O built into the numbers. That, of course, is assuming no cost overruns. But projects always come out under budget and ahead of schedule, right? :-/

Jobasaur September 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

Actually, they usually do come out under budget.
http://www.lightrailnow.org/myths/m_lrt009.htm

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 9:54 am

9 systems in 33 years came in under budget. I don’t have time to go look for example after example… here’s one that comes to mind… Charlotte:

“Revised estimates by early 2007 called for the project to be completed at a final cost of $462.7 million, more than double the original estimate of $227 million.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lynx_Rapid_Transit_Services

Jobasaur September 15, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Sure, some, like one of Charlotte’s lines, are indeed over budget, much in the same way that some highway projects come in over budget.

Your comment seemed to imply, through sarcasm, that most or all light rail projects are over budget and finished late. I was simply pointing out that there are many transit projects that are finished early and under budget.

Another example from just last month:
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/52311534-78/trax-lines-jordan-uta.html.csp
“TRAX lines opening a year early, 20% under budget .”

Also, I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that 10 years of operating costs were being factored into the overall pricetags for each transit project on the T-SPLOST.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 2:21 pm

There was certainly no sarcasm intended. It’s simply been my impression that most projects, at least within the Cobb / Atlanta area, do not come at or under budget. While some other areas of the country may have great luck at being able to complete a project within budgetary constraints, I’m not sure that’s a quality that I would attribute to the people leading projects around here locally.

As for the number of years of operating costs, here’s where I got that…

“Tim: That includes four years at 100 percent m&o (maintenance and operations).

Faye: There’s $31 million for operating costs. The total is $856 million.”

http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/15469200/article-Lee-insists—No-MARTA-coming-to-Cobb-County-?

Jobasaur September 15, 2011 at 2:36 pm

For Cobb/Atlanta, I’m not sure, you could be right. Although to be fair, no transit project has ever been built in Cobb County, so we have no comparison. If indeed projects in the Metro Atlanta area do consistently come in over budget, they should figure that in to the costs of each project on the T-SPLOST. I just haven’t seen any studies that indicate this is the case.

That original link I posted was from 2001. In addition to the Salt Lake City example, many other light rail projects since then have been under budget and/or ahead of schedule (just off the top of my head, LA’s gold line, Memphis line extension, Dallas green line, Denver T-Rex, Minneapolis central corridor, Portland yellow line). Norfolk VA is the only other line I can think of that was way over budget.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 9:57 am

Furthermore, we’re talking about Georgia projects here. What percentage of projects in Georgia come in under budget vs the percentage of projects that experience cost overruns? I don’t have the project name offhand, but I know I’d read an article in the MDJ about a Cobb project that didn’t quite get finished in the 2005 SPLOST because they ran out of money so the remainder of the project had to be added to the 2011 SPLOST to finish it.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 7:06 pm

“And once again massive ignorance stands in the way of progress. We need rail in Cobb County, but not just a mid-town to Cumberland line but a line out to Marietta, Kennesaw, and Acworth and a line connecting Cumberland to Perimeter.”

Cobb County may need rail but it does not need THAT rail line (the proposed light rail line from Midtown-to-Galleria with continued future expansion proposed to advance up Cobb Parkway to Kennesaw).

The rail line(s) that Cobb County needs (as you partly describe), first and foremost, are two commuter rail lines running along the existing CSX freight rail corridor that runs along the historical backbone of the county through Vinings, CUMBERLAND, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth with a line branching off to the north just above Marietta and running to Canton via Woodstock (which is developing new urbanism in its historic downtown) and Holly Springs.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 7:23 pm

“That’s just stupid. Mr. Talley has obviously never been on MARTA’s North Spring line in the morning. Here’s the thing we can’t pave our way out of our traffic woes. Big roads destroy communities, people know this that’s why people fight road widening so strongly.”

The road widenings proposed in Cobb in particular are not THAT far-reaching and dramatic as only a few major roads are proposed to be widened to six lanes at the absolute most.

I agree and understand that we can’t pave our way out of congestion, but just as we have to invest more in our rail infrastructure, we have got to invest more in our very limited road infrastructure as well, especially in the Atlanta Region where major surface arteries are alot farther and fewer between compared to other sunbelt locales like Dallas, Phoenix and even Miami where the road networks are based on a checkerboard-like grid system with north-south and east-west 4-6 lane major roads spaced every mile apart on average.

We can’t just continue to sit on the sidelines and invest in absolutely nothing because neither the road advocates and the transit advocates can get everything they want at the expense of the other.

John Konop September 14, 2011 at 11:07 am

This is not about TSPLOST for people like Van Brink, who claims to understand the constitution, yet would fail a basic history class. Our history was based on joint investment from the state, federal…… Who does he think paid for Lewis & Clark, highways, airports, electronic grid, water, rail, roads………?

I really do not know enough about TSPLOST to support it or not. But I do know people like Van Brink should not be even at the negotiating table until he reads a few books about our history.

…. “We are opposed to the TSPLOST in principle because we don’t believe that nine other counties and the city of Atlanta have the right to impose a tax increase on the citizens of Cobb County,” said J.D. Van Brink, who chairs the group’s board. “We believe that the law itself is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repealed.”…..

Three Jack September 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

i don’t know mr. van brink, but a quick google shows he does have a grasp on american history and acknowledges that limited government includes paying for infrastructure — http://themadisonforum.com/2011/01/fair-tax-vs-flat-tax/#more-311

if the tsplost was modified by removing the $600m+ directed toward one useless rail line connecting galleria to buckhead/midtown with the money instead applied to more modern solutions, it would pass without a problem. the tea party is right to oppose as it has been presented.

bgsmallz September 14, 2011 at 11:42 am

“useless rail line”…quality thought process.

It’s the same thought process that has killed rail to Cobb and Gwinnett for 40 years…this idea that the only step is the first step…”That little line is useless”…well, screw that.

If this doesn’t pass, I want to set up toll booths at all local roads in other counties at the Cobb County border, I want to increase parking fees at Hartsfield for Cobb residents, I want a differentiated Marta fee for DeKalb/Fulton residents vs. others, and I want to figure out some other user fees to make sure that if you don’t want to tax yourselves into the system that we get it out of you somehow…b/c frankly, I’m tired of you all suckling at our teet for ‘pennies on the dollar.’ As Mr. Graves would say, it’s highway robbery!

Three Jack September 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm

bg, a hell of a lot more thought went into the statement ‘useless rail line’ than whoever decided to make it the most significant portion of cobb’s tsplost allocation.

cobb doesn’t have a traffic problem from galleria to atlanta. we do have major gridlock from glade rd. to galleria. what part of the tsplost addresses the real problems?

David Staples September 14, 2011 at 1:22 pm

Agreed. We currently have transit options available from Cumberland to downtown via CCT buses. How many people park at Cumberland to ride a CCT bus downtown?

Scott65 September 14, 2011 at 6:59 pm

+1!!!

Rambler1414 September 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm

BS.

Mark my words. Even if the Cobb Co. light rail is dropped from the project list, the Tea Party will still not support TIA.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

“if the tsplost was modified by removing the $600m+ directed toward one useless rail line connecting galleria to buckhead/midtown with the money instead applied to more modern solutions, it would pass without a problem. the tea party is right to oppose as it has been presented.”

Actually, the cost of the proposed light rail line from Midtown to the Galleria is a MINIMUM of $856.5 million.

Another thing is why do people, especially intown rail-only advocates, get so excited over the thought of a few roads being widened in Metro Atlanta when the Atlanta Region has so few 4-6 roads compared to urban areas in Texas and Florida.

Just Google a satellite map of Dallas or even Miami, Orlando or even Phoenix and you’ll be able to see that Dallas and those other towns are laid-out on a grid system with north-and-south and east-and-west 4-7 lane boulevards spaced every half-mile to mile at the most.

Metro Atlanta does not have the fortune of being laid-out on a grid system with 4-6 lane boulevards every mile or so on average.

Instead the Atlanta Region is heavily-dependent on a “network” of meandering roads that are based somewhat upon ancient Indian trails with a scant few four or six lane roads to be found.

Nearly all of the major two-lane roads that this region is heavily dependent upon are also heavily residential nodes, which means that there will likely never be the political appetite for the type of road-widenings and investment in road infrastructure in the Atlanta Region that is seen in Texas, Florida and California on a regular basis.

Our total lack of any semblance of a grid system means that we have very few major roads that are actually able to be widened (Can you imagine the uproar that would happen if a heavily residential major two-lane road like Old Canton, Lower Roswell or Post Oak Tritt Rd was actually proposed to be widened to four lanes in Cobb? It would be like the end of the world) and yet there’s always a ridiculous amount of opposition (from the left side of the political spectrum) anytime one of the gridlocked few major four-lane arteries that Metro Atlanta does have is proposed to be given a couple of extra lanes.

I just don’t get it.

Scott65 September 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I can…take Lenox road as an example. It sure didn’t fly there when Bill Campbell tried

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Exactly. That’s why any transportation plan HAS be to MULTImodal, because our roads can only be expanded to a VERY LIMITED extent given our already VERY LIMITED road network and infrastructure.

debbie0040 September 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

The T-SPLOST would increases its chances of passing if:

1. All of the tax revenue collected in the counties stayed in the county and not be re-distributed to other areas.

2. 75% of the revenue went to COMPLETED road projects that actually eased congestion and study projects are removed.

3. Voters were confident that their elected officials were being fiscally responsible with the tax dollars they are given now.

4. Voters can be assured that elected officials won’t steer projects to their cronies. I noticed that many of the people supporting T-SPLOST will also profit from it. For example, it appears money will be funneled to “study” projects and in turn go to political cronies that support T-SPLOST. A 85 or 90 million dollar study project for rail that was attached to Gwinnett comes to mind..

John Konop September 14, 2011 at 3:30 pm

In all due respect you may want to rethink your position.

…………..All of the tax revenue collected in the counties stayed in the county and not be re-distributed to other areas……………

This is very short sided thinking. The real issue is how we increase capacity of people and goods moving from county to county and even out of state ie more jobs.

……75% of the revenue went to COMPLETED road projects that actually eased congestion and study projects are removed…….

City planning 101: Infrastructure investment over time does not fix traffic issues. The concept is to increase capacity of people to an area for an increase in revenue. For instance if people could take a train for the weekend into the city it would increase business or if goods could move from rail instead of cars we could increase transactions ie more jobs…………….

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 5:19 pm

The thinking is not really that shortsighted.

If all tax revenues collected stayed in the county that they are collected, projects of a regional scale could still be built, it’s just that the revenues that were raised in a particular county would be spent on the section of the regional project that went through that county be it the 75% going to roads or the 25% going to rail.

The money raised in each county doesn’t necessarily have to be re-distributed to projects in other counties as in Metro Atlanta, for sure, each county could raise enough to work on the projects of both a local and regional scale.

For example, the money raised in a Cobb or Gwinnett could be alloted 75%-25% towards roads with the 25% going towards rail being spent on the section of rail that went through the county to ensure that those counties would be adequately-served by, say, a section of commuter rail line that served the entire county along and through an existing freight rail corridor that would actually help to reduce congestion as opposed to only a small section of light rail that runs only a mile into the county.

If the referendum kept the revenues raised in the county collected, the project list could be altered by county so as to give each county the roads-transit split it actually wanted with no more than 75% going either way.

So if Cobb and Gwinnett wanted 75% of the revenues raised in their counties to go towards roads, by county you could, say, let Fulton and DeKalb put 75% of the revenues collected in their counties towards transit if they so chose.

I agree with both of your points-of-view on the matter, but having a regional T-SPLOST that gives each county more leeway and more control over how it would like to spend the revenues the tax raises in its own borders might be a good combined approach.

John Konop September 14, 2011 at 5:55 pm

What I wrote is not my opinion it is general knowledge from people who understand city planning. Once again increase capacity does create increase commerce which is good for the economy.

That is why the economic winners should be based on the best way increase to increase capacity in an area not congestion. Also if you spend more money in one county but the capacity increases in your county than that it is smart economic planning. But splitting up evenly without regard to the best plan is bad business and short sided.

…Strange how the traditional laws of supply and demand go out the window when it comes to traffic. Studies over the last decade (like this one, this one, and this one; plus the book Suburban Nation) have pretty much dismantled the theory that more roads equal less traffic congestion. It turns out that the opposite is often true: building more and wider highways can increase traffic congestion…..

http://www.freakonomics.com/2011/05/13/does-destroying-highways-solve-urban-traffic-congestion/

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 6:43 pm

People keep saying more roads, but I don’t necessarily see an abundance of new roads even in the T-SPLOST scenarios that tilt more heavily towards roads.

I mainly see proposals to modify the existing roads we have by adding an extra lane or two where feasible.

For example, in the max-road scenario in Cobb County, I see a proposal to widen Highway 41 to six through lanes with an extra left-turn and right-turn lane where needed from just outside I-285 to the Bartow County line, a proposal to widen Windy Hill Road from four lanes to six through lanes from Austell Road to Powers Ferry Road with modifications to the Windy Hill & I-75 interchange.

I also see a proposal to widen the Barrett Parkway/East-West Connector/Cumberland Parkway corridor from the Barrett Pkwy-GA 120/Dallas Hwy intersection back around to the Cumberland Pkwy-South Atlanta Road intersection and a proposal to finish widening GA 360 from the intersection with GA 176/New Macland & Lost Mountain Rds into Paulding County to the intersection with GA 120/Marietta Hwy while strangely there are no proposals to widen the always evening rush hour-gridlocked GA 176/Lost Mountain Road/Mars Hill Road from its intersection with Hwy 41 down to Hwy 360 and ESPECIALLY through the gridlocked intersection with GA 120/Dallas Hwy at historic Lost Mountain.

NONE of these proposals include building a new road that does not currently exists, but DO include making modifications to existing ones and are even packaged with a proposal to implement commuter rail on the existing CSX freight line that spans the entire length of the county through historic town centers in Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth, town centers with the density and human scale to support future commuter rail service, with a line branching off to the north paralleling I-575 towards Canton via Woodstock and Holly Springs.

These proposals to widen existing roads that are currently gridlocked beyond belief during peak hours are proposals that would be modest by Texas, Florida & California road-instructure standards.

The inclusion of a proposal to implement commuter rail on the existing CSX and Georgia Northeastern Railroad corridors along with the increased road improvements would not only have far greater impact on current traffic congestion levels, but would also have a far greater impact on long-term traffic congestion, land-use patterns and commuting habits than the proposed Midtown-to-Galleria light rail line that is proposed for continued future expansion up along the auto-dominated Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway corridor which does not have the density or the scale to support such a line.

It is on those grounds alone that this T-SPLOST should be defeated.

John Konop September 14, 2011 at 8:19 pm

You are way more knowledgeable than I about the details in T-SPLOST. My only point is rather you widen the roads or build new ones the result will not solve congestion in the long term. But it will increase capacity which does help the economy.

If you get past thinking in terms of solving congestion and look at as more as how to increase capacity rail would make more sense if done right per investment dollar.

And we cannot think in terms of immediate area. For instance the widening of the ports in Savanna has much greater effect on increasing capacity commerce way beyond just Savanna. Metro Atlanta would see a major impact via us being the major hub for goods moving in and out of market. We cannot think of economics in a myopic view of our city, county…….

A major factor in the failure of the USSR was the inability to move goods in and out of market as well as a lack of a communication and energy infrastructure. This is why the fastest growing economies China, Russia and Brazil are heavily investing into the above.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm

You make some very good points about infrastructure investment, a concept that no one around these parts seems to grasp in the broadest terms these days.

“My only point is rather you widen the roads or build new ones the result will not solve congestion in the long term. But it will increase capacity which does help the economy….If you get past thinking in terms of solving congestion and look at as more as how to increase capacity rail would make more sense if done right per investment dollar.”

That’s the thing…In a major population center of six million that is exceptionally overdependent upon a VERY LIMITED road network, there is NO SUCH THING as solving congestion.

The best and ONLY thing that Metro Atlantans can hope for is to be able to manage congestion to a greater extent than is done so now, something that WELL THOUGHT-OUT, PLANNED and WELL-PLACED rail options can help to do, but ONLY if done correctly.

Badly-needed road improvements will help congestion tremendously, but will still only go so far in helping to manage congestion.

The few major thoroughfares that Metro Atlanta has, even the suburban ones in Cobb and Gwinnett, can only be widened to a point as there is no real political appetitite to widen the roads to anymore than six lanes, tops.

Since the amount of road capacity that can added is very limited, the only other place that we can add capacity is rail, preferably commuter rail.

In particular, the proposed commuter rail service on the existing CSX line in Cobb runs right by the same location in the Cumberland Mall area as the proposed light rail line, and could run with just as much frequency if need be with greater impact on congestion and mobility in the oft-peak hour-gridlocked I-75 and 575 corridors.

I agree that we need a transportation plan that not only attempts to alleviate congestion but also improves mobility and has a positive long-term impact on land use patterns and economic development.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm

“A major factor in the failure of the USSR was the inability to move goods in and out of market as well as a lack of a communication and energy infrastructure. This is why the fastest growing economies China, Russia and Brazil are heavily investing into the above.”

Something that this region, state and nation should take to heart if they are to remain competitive and viable.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 8:47 am

But of course deepening the Savannah port would also bring more truck traffic to Atlanta. Without an outer loop, we’re only creating more congestion for ourselves. Take a look at how much of the traffic on I-75, I-85 and I-285 is truck traffic. They have no option of going around the sprawling Atlanta metro.

John Konop September 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

You must support rail?

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 10:06 am

I support freight rail. Privately funded freight rail that is… don’t tax me to build more of it. Let the freight companies pay for it.

John Konop September 15, 2011 at 10:17 am

Even if it measn more jobs now via movement of goods? The lack of movement of goods is what killed the USSR economy durring the Cold War.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 10:28 am

Goods are moving around the US fairly well these days already. If it takes an extra hour in Atlanta traffic, that’s not going to kill the entire economy.

John Konop September 15, 2011 at 10:35 am

Read and learn!

…….The U.S. Conference of Mayors representing 1,204 cities published a report based on research and modeling conducted by the Economic Development Research Group Inc.

The findings looked at four cities that would be impacted economically by high-speed rail. These included Los Angeles, with $7.6 billion a year in new business sales, producing 55,000 new jobs and $3 billion in new wages, as well as Chicago, Orlando and Albany, N.Y.

The study found that in Orlando, $2.9 billion a year in new business sales, producing 27,500 jobs and $1.2 billion in new wages, would be generated. The study notes that high-speed rail can help drive higher-density, mixed use development at stations, increase business productivity through travel-efficiency gains, would help expand visitor markets and generate additional spending, would broaden regional labor markets, and support the growth of technology clusters……

http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/2011-07-17/news/fl-smart-growth-transit-katz-0710-20110717_1_high-speed-rail-commuter-rail-reason-foundation

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 10:49 am

So you’re not talking freight rail, you’re talking high speed commuter rail? Where do you propose this high speed commuter rail should be built in the 10 county metro area to be funded by the T-SPLOST? Even the light rail line from Midtown to Cumberland I believe I read will top out at 30 mph… that’s only really high speed when compared to walking.

John Konop September 15, 2011 at 11:16 am

David,

I am suggesting all of the above. Movement of goods and people creates more commerce which in turn grows the economy ie more jobs. Rail allows the increase to be more efficient than roads. I have not designed a plan, I am merely pointing out the concept on a macro level.

This is why historically as a country the government invested into rail, airports…….. This concept started with our founding fathers ie Lewis and Clark expedition.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 11:47 am

“Movement of goods and people creates more commerce which in turn grows the economy ie more jobs.”

Right. But what about the cost factor here? Who pays to move goods and people? Should we just all send 100% of our income to the federal government, who will then divide it up between states and local communities as it sees fit? DC can then build local parks, playgrounds, put schools where it wants to, provide health care and we’ll all be on equal playing fields. (Isn’t that kind of what the USSR was aiming for? Communism?)

So the question becomes, if we do spend all this extra “public” money building up rail lines to create additional capacity, will it be used? Is the current capacity full for freight rail? Furthermore, once we spend the money to build it, by how much are we going to have to continue to subsidize it? After all, just looking at CCT buses in Cobb County, 1/3 of the operations is still funded by Cobb property taxes at $13M per year. Say we build the light rail line from Midtown to Cumberland and eventually to Kennesaw and Acworth… is that going to be another $20M per year that I’m going to have to contribute to in order to keep it running, all in the name of moving people and goods?

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 2:38 pm

That Midtown-to-Cumberland light rail proposal is crap and nothing more than a desperate “hail-mary” attempt to save a floundering Galleria Mall.

Also, as I have heard Cumberland-area interests state on more than one occasion, the proposed rail line is a desperate attempt to try and turn Cumberland Mall into the next Lenox Square and the surrounding area into the next Buckhead.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

The Cobb Chamber of Commerce and Cumberland area interests could attempt to turn that area into a Buckhead-type of destination more effectively by utilizing the existing CSX rail corridor that runs right through the area they are trying to boost up.

Commuter rail and light rail service within that existing corridor could do even more to make that area even more attractive to investors, visitors and shoppers than the proposed light rail up Cobb Parkway could ever do.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 2:58 pm

“I support freight rail. Privately funded freight rail that is… don’t tax me to build more of it. Let the freight companies pay for it.”

Interesting that you mention freight rail like that, because freight rail companies already receive heavy operating subsidies from the State of Georgia.

The AJC ran a few articles on it not too long ago mentioning how freight rail companies continue to receive those heavy subsidies from state government because of heavy historical use of freight rail to transport agricultural goods to production and agricultural products to market in a what was a traditionally heavily agricultural state here in Georgia.

Despite the decreased dependence on freight trains for transport of agricultural goods and products, the freight rail companies have kept their heavy operating subsidies from the state because of robust lobbying of state politicians under the Gold Dome.

David Staples September 15, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Then it appears it’s also time to eliminate the freight rail subsidies. I’ll have to go look for that article at some point…

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 2:29 pm

“Without an outer loop, we’re only creating more congestion for ourselves. Take a look at how much of the traffic on I-75, I-85 and I-285 is truck traffic. They have no option of going around the sprawling Atlanta metro.”

The outer loop/Outer Perimeter concept is great on paper, but is not politically viable in reality because the proposed route would run through the suburban and exurban areas of the politically and financially affluent Golden Crescent north of the city between I-75 to the northwest and I-85 to the northeast of the city in an area that encompasses some prime residential real estate between Lakes Allatoona and Lanier.

Any new Outer Perimeter proposal would also be perceived by the public to be just another way for politicians and their crony land spectulator friends to put up more of the type of worthless overdevelopment and sprawl that has overwhelmed once-exurban counties like Cobb and, ESPECIALLY, Gwinnett with post-suburban blight, crime and overcrowding.

That lack of a politically viable Outer Perimeter highway option in effect makes mass transit (centered heavily on commuter rail and buses) almost the ONLY option for attempting to remove heavy vehicular traffic from the Interstate system and free up the space for heavy truck traffic instead of the other way around.

Also keep-in-mind that even with the presence of an Outer Perimeter, heavy truck traffic would still be a big problem on Metro Atlanta expressways as the Atlanta Region is a VERY MAJOR trucking, logistics and distribution center on the North American continent and is the top trucking and logistics hub in the Southeastern U.S.

Sorry, but we’ve pretty much reaching our limits in what a road solution alone can do to help with our increasing mobility issues.

Engineer September 14, 2011 at 4:11 pm

“1. All of the tax revenue collected in the counties stayed in the county and not be re-distributed to other areas.”

One enormous problem with that. Not all counties generate the same amount of money. This is a big problem you see in South Georgia. Wealthier counties will have 4 lane roads to the county line, then when you cross the line it becomes a two lane highway until the next wealthier county. You end up with a bottleneck and heavier traffic over poorly maintained roads (Lord help you if there is a school or several school bus stops on that major road).

“2. 75% of the revenue went to COMPLETED road projects that actually eased congestion and study projects are removed.”

An old saying comes to mind, fail to plan and you plan to fail; additionally, you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink.
Traffic planners attempt to guide traffic to higher capacity roads, but if it isn’t studied and planned out ahead of time, rather than following what local officials want (*cough* MARTA *cough*), it just ends up being money wasted on something that isn’t used. Of course, this goes for roads as well.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Those actually are not bad ideas from you, Debbieoo40.

I’ve always personally thought that up to 100% of this T-SPLOST should go to badly-needed road improvements in return for taking the 1% of the gas tax that currently goes to the general fund and is not Constitutionally-required to be spent on roads and diverting it into capital (or just some type of simple collateral) for statewide rail projects.

This plan you suggest would actually be a very workable plan that could likely gain broad support for BOTH badly-needed road improvements and badly-needed overhaul of the current failing, inadequate and ineffective rail transit system here in Georgia (MARTA).

Since the Tea Party only wants 75% spent on roads, we could do as you suggest and spend that 75% of the T-SPLOST on those badly-needed road improvements in the counties in which the revenues are raised, while taking the other 25% and using it as a base level of collateral for rail transit in addition to diverting the 1% of the gas-tax from the general fund to rail financing.

We wouldn’t actually necessarily need to use the 25% of the T-SPLOST for construction, maintenance and operations of any future rail lines as bonds could be sold to finance the construction and paid back with adequately-priced higher fares (not some rockbottom $2.00 one-way crap that pays for nothing and requires unending tax subsidies that never stop increasing) that would also cover the cost of maintenance and operations.

Rambler1414 September 15, 2011 at 8:09 am

“1. All of the tax revenue collected in the counties stayed in the county and not be re-distributed to other areas.”

They’re called County SPLOST’s. You remember? The Cobb County SPLOST that the Tea Party waged a war against last year.

Engineer September 14, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Hey what do you know, yet another article talking about how T-SPLOST is hated simply because of the Atlanta Metro/MARTA issue (with a dash of supposed Tea Partying). Take a drive outside of the Atlanta Metro area (and surrounding suburbs) and you’ll see roads in rough shape. I know of several state roads in the mountains that are in sad sad shape. Go down to south Georgia and you see roads that are practically more patching than paving with a look more similar to a tar covered patchwork quilt than a paved road (I’m looking at you, GA 121, 122, 133, 32, 33, 37, 49, 203, 158, & 15. [yes, I drive around a lot]). Frankly, a lot of folks like the idea of tax money staying in your own region.

Not that it matters, yet again, all that matters is Atlanta.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 5:56 pm

I drive around a heckuva lot, too, but after spending extensive time in the Midwest where every post-snowstorm thaw (and believe me, there are ALOT of them, even during the winter) brings potholes the size the bathtubs, what is considered “rough” pavement in Georgia doesn’t seem quite so bad (Ever had to dodge hot-tub sized potholes every few feet or so to avoid breaking one or both of your axles in half? Ever seen a very heavily-traveled street littered with potholes big enough to take off your bumper and render your car completely useless if you hit them?).

Needless to say, I agree that Georgia needs to invest alot more in its infrastructure, especially to stay competitive with Texas, Florida and North Carolina, three states investing heavily in BOTH roads and rail.

griftdrift September 14, 2011 at 4:03 pm

I’m pretty sure that’s why it’s a regional TSPLOST. So that Albany – Moultrie – Valdosta can get 133 four – laned without worrying about big bad Atlanta.

Engineer September 14, 2011 at 4:15 pm

Exactly. T-SPLOST keeps the money in your own region. Unfortunately, instead of it being viewed as a regional issue, it keeps being bogged down and turned into a state-wide issue courtesy of the Atlanta Metro area. :\

Harry September 14, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Taxed enough, already.

Harry September 14, 2011 at 6:11 pm

You want more money for infrastructure? Get it from existing unnecessary spending. For example, get rid of schoolteacher pensions and put schoolteachers on social security.

Engineer September 16, 2011 at 8:58 am

I agree, let’s give teachers even more reasons to not teach in Georgia!

David Staples September 16, 2011 at 9:12 am

How about private retirement funds like 401ks?

Engineer September 16, 2011 at 10:02 am

I was mostly joking around.

SOGTP September 14, 2011 at 6:35 pm

STOP sending the Federal Fuel tax to Mordor on the Potomac. You Hobbits should keep your money here in Georgia instead of laundering it in Mordor to be returned at $.85cents on the dollar.

seenbetrdayz September 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm

I’m still not sure that infrastructure ‘investment’ is going to boost business.

I mean, American companies have been leaving the U.S. in droves to go to third-world hellholes that barely have running water.

There must be other, more important factors at play here.

John Konop September 14, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Wages and no legal rights for workers a key factor.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Infrastructure investment is only the part of the equation that we can control locally in luring companies making moves to the Sunbelt.

Reforming and simplifying the antiquated tax code at the federal level to encourage more domestic investment and less offshoring wouldn’t necessarily solve that problem alone, but it would be a BIG help and would be a great place to start.

Max Power September 15, 2011 at 9:44 am

Does anyone remember that we actually used to have a street car line from Atlanta to downtown Marietta? Most of the tracks are still there. How about a pilot program where we run a few trains a day on the existing freight tracks to a temporary station in town to judge it’s popularity?

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 1:50 pm

I don’t remember it as I wasn’t there personally, but I have heard of the line that you are talking about.

The line in particular that you are referring to ran along Atlanta Road (Old Highway 41-3) in Cobb County and ran along either Chattahoochee Avenue and Howell Mill Road or Marietta Avenue in Atlanta, if I’m correct?

I think that the part of the line between Atlanta and Marietta may have even been considered an interurban in those days because except for Smyrna, which was a REALLY small town then, there wasn’t really much of anything except stands of trees and farmland between the Chattahoochee River and Marietta, which was considered kind of far away from Atlanta and an out-of-town trip before the advent of the Interstate system.

The Last Democrat in Georgia September 15, 2011 at 2:08 pm

Having a pilot program to judge the popularity of a possible future commuter rail system isn’t a bad idea, although the increasing ridership and popularity of the Xpress commuter buses to and from Park & Ride lots in Cobb and Cherokee Counties along Interstates 75 and 575 and around the region give us a pretty good idea that commuter rail would likely be a VERY popular concept in the Atlanta Region, especially if implemented and operated properly.

The Xpress commuter buses that run on gridlocked interstates and expressways parallel to an existing rail corridor already serve as a de-facto pilot program of sorts for future commuter rail service in the Atlanta Region.

If commuters will drive to a Park & Ride lot and park their own personal vehicles to ride an express or commuter bus that may frequently get stuck in the same expressway traffic that single-occupant vehicles frequently get stuck in, then there is absolutely no doubt that commuters will drive to a Park & Ride lot at a station along a rail line to board and ride a commuter TRAIN that is NOT susceptible to the same frequent automobile traffic delays as a bus that has to ride in the same traffic on the freeways as everyone else.

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