The Marietta Daily Journal brings news this morning that Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott will hold a town hall meeting to discuss a proposed MAGLEV train system to link Cumberland Mall to Acworth via Kennesaw State University. The cost is roughly the same amount planned for the Marta extension from mid-town to Cumberland. Click the link above for more details, but here’s the political angle from their story:
IF THE MAGLEV OPTION withstands scrutiny, it stands to turn the politics of TSPLOST on its head.
Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee (who is up for re-election next summer) has “doubled down” in favor of the Midtown-to-Cumberland light rail line favored by the Atlanta Regional Commission and his backers in the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and the Cumberland Improvement District. The lion’s share, or $856.5 million, of Cobb’s expected revenues from the TSPLOST, was originally earmarked for the line. But flack from the public, much of which sees the line as a way of back-dooring MARTA rail into Cobb, and at the expense of badly needed improvements to local roads and expressways, caused Lee to eventually support a plan that shifts $176.5 million from the rail line to various road projects, and which also takes $110 million from the rail line to pay for an upgraded “premium” bus line in the I-75 corridor.
Now Commissioner Ott, who has been sharply critical of Lee and the TSPLOST’s emphasis on the Midtown-to-Atlanta rail, has raised the stakes by, in effect, seeming to throw his support behind the maglev alternative. Not only would it be cheaper (at least as advertised), it also would go where commuting patterns show people are going (i.e., toward the Perimeter/Ga. 400 corridor); as opposed to where Cumberland/Chamber interests wish they were going (toward Atlanta). It also raises the question of why Lee and the Cobb Department of Transportation have shown no apparent interest to date in exploring what appears to be a highly competitive, much less expensive alternative to his TSPLOST rail plan — and a proposal that’s “home-grown,” to boot.
I’ll let you fine people connect your own dots in the space below.