Saturday T-SPLOST Pro & Con Thread

While much of the debate here is growing circular, this is the hot topic of the day.  As such, here’s a daily Pro & Con T-SPLOST open thread.

On the Pro-Side, we have a new TV ad from UNTIE Atlanta.

New radio ads can be found here and here.

For the opposition, I present the following e-mail by Representative Ed Setzler. 

Dear Friends,

I have been getting a lot of serious questions about the upcoming July 31 transportation referendum (TSPLOST).  As many of you know, I serve on the House Transportation Committee and have worked diligently for years to help the Atlanta region find real solutions to its traffic problems.  It is with this commitment to actually solve our traffic problems while not wasting taxpayer money that I STRONGLY OPPOSE PASSAGE OF THE TSPLOST REFERENDUM ON JULY 31.

The $8.4 billion TSPLOST project list selected in 2011 by a group of 21 local officials is such a profoundly poor use of a 10 year sales tax that if we consume the $3,500 each metro household will pay for these projects, metro Atlanta will never catch up in finding the money required to address traffic congestion.  The fatal irony of the TSPLOST vote is that what is being sold to you as traffic relief is largely a bail out for MARTA and a funding mechanism for billion dollar mass transit projects that only 2% of us will ever use.  Please don’t be fooled by this very slick and well done advertising campaign.  The powerful interests funding this unprecedented effort have so much to gain from TSPLOST’s passage that they will stop at almost nothing to gain your support.

Think about it – spending $8 Million in advertising to secure $8 Billion in targeted construction.that means that it will cost TSPLOST proponents only $1 of private advertising for every $1000 in tax payer funded projects they will receive if the referendum passes on July 31.  Imagine an 8 year old child that invests $5 in advertising for a Saturday lemonade stand and from that tiny investment receives $5,000 in business.  Dollar for dollar, that is the same 1000 to 1 pot of gold that proponents of the TSPLOST know is on the back side of this rainbow, if they can only convince you that the July 31 project list is worthy of your support.

This project list is a trap for taxpayers that consumes 52% of the money on rail transit projects, many of which are initial phases multi-decade projects that will require your support again and again every 10 years and will do practically nothing to reduce traffic.  Even the AJC reported on May 20, 2012, that regional planners concede that the TSPLOST project list will do little to reduce commute times.  Hijacked by powerful in-town interests, the TSPLOST ignores recent compelling studies that propose intersection improvements and even express bus projects that provide a reasonable return on our investment.  Instead, the TSPLOST funds $120 million per mile pet projects such BRT/Light Rail to Cumberland Mall and the Atlanta Beltline, a project of great political interest to in-town leaders that will do absolutely nothing to reduce traffic.  Furthermore, the TSPLOST brazenly commits $600 million to bail out the existing MARTA system, a concept that the legislature intentionally tried to prohibit in passing the enabling act.

Predictably, there is no real funding to get the counter-TSPLOST message out because this is a classic case of concentrated benefits, dispersed costs.  There really is no one big entity that stands much to gain from opposing TSPLOST, just voters who have become ever accustomed to the call that “it’s just one penny, you’ll never miss it.”

In conclusion, I could under different circumstances support a sales tax vote if the project list provided good value in actual traffic relief.  A laser-focus on traffic relief was the solemn commitment of those who proposed this regional sales tax referendum to the legislature.  Unfortunately, these dollars were repurposed by powerful in-town interests to become what is in essence an $8 Billion bait-and-switch that only the voters of the 10-county metro region can stop between now and July 31.  Do not believe this is the only chance we have – we CAN come back in two years and get this list right.  Cries of “There is no Plan B!” or “Now is your only chance to buy!” are the tactics of high pressure salesman that benefit greatly from your uncertainty.  Two years is not too long to wait to address a traffic problem that has been 50 years in the making.  Let’s come back in 2 years with a project list that is worthy of our support.

I urge you to educate yourself, share this message with all of your friends, and vote NO on July 31.

If you would like to investigate these issues further, I encourage you to contact me personally or check out a short but substantive informational video on the web, presented by a retired Army logistics officer Mr. Bob Ross of Fayette County.  The link is as follows:

Thank you for your consideration and I am deeply honored to serve you in Georgia legislature.

Very Respectfully,

Ed Setzler
State Representative
Georgia House of Representatives

I like and respect Rep. Setzler.  I’m leaning against voting for T-SPLOST.  But I’ll go ahead and editorialize that I am growing weary of hearing that one of TSPLOST’s many problems is that it is a “bailout” of MARTA.  Fulton & DeKalb residents will be doubling their taxes paid to transit.  What they get in return is temporary restrictions lifted on their capital budget, while new suburbanites will help govern a system they pay little for.  The state will continue to pretend MARTA isn’t the largest transit system in the country that receives no state funds.

Frankly, the inequitable solution for MARTA is one of the worst parts of T-SPLOST, and the inequity isn’t on the side of the suburbanites who are railing against the authority.  The misinformation about MARTA and the continued use of it as a political boogeyman is perhaps one of the most dangerous threats to any real attempt to solve the Atlanta Region’s traffic problems.

Also, I’ve decided to close the thread with Senator Chambliss’s statement on T-SPLOST as we just have too many of these open.  If you have an opinion on the Senator’s statement, please include it here.


  1. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    Rep. Setzler is one of the good guys in the Legislature. The fact that he manages engineering and environmental projects nationwide should reassure ANTI-TSPLOST folks that they are on the right side of the issue.

    Now if he can just support 18 year old gun carry without training …. he’d be perfect.

    As for Taxby …. his I’m voting for TSPLOST but endorsing it is so typical of that faux-conservative. He’s probably chuckling it up with John Kerry at how slickly he threaded the needle on this one.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Yeah, Selzer’s such a great guy that after nearly 8 years in the General Assembly that having been “on the House Transportation Committee and have worked diligently for years to help the Atlanta region find real solutions to its traffic problems” he’s accomplished what?


  2. Daddy Got A Gun says:

    oops … I’m meant to say “his I’m voting for TSPLOST but NOT endorsing it ….

  3. Posted on FB and twitter:
    Until the GA DOT can clear accidents faster and provide proper detours around construction GA traffic will never improve. #VoteNoTSPLOST

    • wicker says:

      Accidents and construction happen everywhere. Plenty of metro areas have the same problems with accidents and construction – most of which is routine maintenance -but few of them have our congestion problems. This is just more excuses not to do anything.

      • 99% of the time I’m stuck in traffic it is one or both these (accident or construction) that’s causing the traffic jam. So until this is addressed (which IS doing something) the transportation athorites do not deserve and haven’t earned a raise in revenues… and who knows, maybe they decide after problem solved and don’t need more money.

        The main point here is there is nothing in the proposed use of TSPLOST that has been shown to improve (do anything) to improve the current situation. And until that occurs…. no increase in transportation funding is warranted.

        • benevolus says:

          I think we should go ahead and tailor the next transportation package to make Daniel Adams’ commute easier. That’s the most important thing.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      GDOT has incentive-based contracts that pay bonuses for towing companies that get the wrecks off the roadway. The results were drastic improvements in response times. And what about detours? Without roads, were do you send the traffic for the alternate route?

      • Detours and re-routes do not have to be permanant… also a lot of our interstates already have plenty of access roads with no ‘access’ other than the normal exits. As for accidents, my best experience was once coming through Montgomery, during rush hour, on a Friday. A 7 to 10 car accident happened 1/2 mile ahead of me…. my delay was less than 20min before traffic resumed at normal max speed. I made the comment then, “…. if this was in Atlanta, one and an half hour minimum.”

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          Because you are an expert at emergency traffic control management and your assessment of an hour and a half was based on…

    • Dave Bearse says:

      You don’t know what you’re talking about in railing against clearing accidents and traffic management. Georgia has been a national leader in this regard since the ’96 Olympics.

  4. wicker says:

    Daddy Got A Gun:

    What about the educated and experienced people who support T-SPLOST? Sorry, but people only cite “the experts” when the experts happen to agree with them. When they don’t, then those same experts become elitists, ideologues, and special interests. So rest assured, the pro T-SPLOST folks have plenty of reassurance of their own, including the fact that when this list fails, their opponents won’t lift a finger towards coming up with a transportation plan of their own. They may propose a few ideas that will alleviate some of the biggest current problems, but it won’t be anything close to a comprehensive plan that helps Atlanta be competitive in the future.

    Here is the deal. T-SPLOST opponents hate congestion, but they hate taxes more. T-SPLOST opponents hate slow and stagnant growth, but they hate spending – especially on things that don’t benefit their own communities and particularly on ideological flash points like public transportation – more. So honestly, there is no project list that they will ever get behind, and there is no one that any of them will “trust” in handling the issue. There will always be claims of incompetence and corruption, and conspiracy theories about payoffs and backroom deals. There will always be claims of “this won’t solve the problem” and accusations of trying to use fear and pressure and chicken little scenarios to ram this through. And there will always be some better idea or plan that we can do if we reject this plan.

    As long as people are primarily motivated by opposition to taxes and spending, they will always find an excuse to say no. As long as the Eric Erickson/Tea Party crowd, and the NIMBY crowd, and the suburban flight crowd are ruling the metro area, nothing other than piecemeal here and there is going to get done. And that is a fact.

    • joe says:

      I have elected officials who should take care of this. Instead, they punt and give us TSPLOST. Plan B is for people under the Gold Dome to do their jobs.

    • dirL says:

      I am opposed and I had just posted a comprehensive list on the previous thread. I forgot to tell how to fund it though, easy peasy. Every Democrat in Georgia should get their wish and pay a 70% tax rate on their income. Every one else, Republicans, libertarians, independents keep paying what they pay. All DOT budget goes to this list until it is done:

      As someone with Asthma, who lives up north 85, Duluth, and works in Decatur let me chime in with my futurist solutions. First, if you have never seen a map of pollution generated by 285 from 20 to 400 go find one and look at it. 2nd, as opposed to the insanity of HOV and the illegal Hot Lanes, stipulate this; cars stuck in Rush hour traffic, idle or near it, generate more pollution than those cars moving and getting off the highway, don’t believe it, look back at aforementioned map. 3rd follow this plan to the letter;

      1. Build an outer outer perimeter.
      2. Tear down all Toll booths on 400 and remove HOV and HOT Lanes to generate trust
      3. Tell the FEDS to stuff it. Start several studies to eventually show how asinine their solutions are to this.
      4. Find a private company to design and build Air Purification Centers designed to reduce smog caused by automobiles to be placed alongside 285 and the brand new…
      5. Double Decker highway you will build over 285 from 85 to 75.
      6. When someone brings up high speed rail, mass transit, marta or anything like that laugh in their face, call them a hopeless Democrat stooge, ban them from any future meetings and post their pictures around town with the word FRAUD on it.
      7. On the federal level mandate that every state provide their own electric power and mandate that all power plants built to meet this goal are nuclear.

      the dirL has spoken

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        I like the idea of double-decking I-285, not just the Top End Perimeter, but all of I-285 where applicable, not only to deal with the heavy local automobile traffic but the increasing out-of-state through traffic, ESPECIALLY the increasingly heavy freight truck traffic, which I-285 and Metro Atlanta-area interstates handle much more than their fair share of.

        I also like the idea of getting rid of the tolls on GA 400 and the completely ascinine HOT lanes on I-85.

        Unfortunately, though, it is likely not possible to get rid of the current HOV lanes, which were built as part of a deal with the Feds back in the late 1970’s-early 1980’s that helped the state secure federal funding for the then-massive “Freeing-the-Freeways” reconstruction project that rebuilt the Interstate system in Metro Atlanta in the 1980’s.

        Unless we can come up with some kind of deal to repay the to the Feds the funds for the “Freeing-the-Freeways” project of the 1980’s we are stuck with those HOV lanes.

        It’s a similar deal for the I-85 HOT Lanes in which Sonny and the Boys sold us out for a $110 million federal grant to build those lanes which we are also likely stuck with for the next 5 years unless we can work out some kind of deal to repay the Feds for the construction of the much-hated and utterly-despised lanes.

        • dirL says:

          I think the Feds would freak out if we tried to double deck 285, and I am not opposed at all to double decking the whole thing. But just like the feds are just making it up as they go along and ignoring state sovereignty, the States should just start telling the feds to take a hike and come up with real solutions to the problems we have. Therefore, I would do away with the asinine hov lanes which do nothing but force more traffic in less lanes thereby causing more air pollution. On top of the Air filtration systems that I really believe could work, we ought to take all the waste collected by the systems and dump it in Washington DC. Literally truck it up there across the DC city limits and dump wherever we feel like, just like the FED government has been doing by creating and adding to our air pollution with their illegal environmentally destructive programs for years.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            I don’t know if the Feds would freak out that much if we tried to double-deck I-285 as Texas has some busy sections of I-10 and I-35 that are double-decked through Central San Antonio and on the near-Northside of Austin near the campus of the University of Texas where I-35 is double-decked.

            Texas also has a massive project underway to double-deck a roughly 12-13 mile stretch of the very busy Interstate 635 LBJ Freeway across the Northside of Dallas to accommodate rapidly-increasing levels of heavy local automobile traffic and heavy freight truck traffic.

            The very busy and often heavily-congested section of the I-635 LBJ Freeway that is being double-decked is Dallas’ equivalent to Atlanta’s I-285 Top End Perimeter.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            The intense irony of the project to double-deck the I-635 LBJ Freeway across the Northside of Dallas are that Dallas is also in the process of building out its rail transit network while conducting massive upgrades to its freeway system (Dallas has 130 centerline miles of transit rail to Atlanta’s 48 miles of centerline transit rail, including roughly 72 miles of expanding light rail lines and two regional commuter rail lines, one of them in the Trinity Railway Express that has grown into one of the most popular regional commuter rail lines in the nation with nearly 10,000 passengers daily and relieves traffic stress from severely-congested I-30/Tom Landry Freeway and TX Highways 183 & 121/Airport Freeway between Dallas and Fort Worth).

            Another irony of the project to double-deck I-635 across the Northside of Dallas is that the new lanes that will be added to the freeway by way of vertical expansion will be tolled managed lanes (HOT Lanes).

            And yet another irony of the I-635 double-decking project in Texas is that Dallas in addition to having a more extensive freeway network than the Atlanta Region, Dallas has a much more extensive surface road network than Atlanta with a north-south east-west grid that consists of 4-6 through lane roads spaced every 1/2 mile to 1 mile and many sections of the freeway system having both surface lanes for local traffic (frontage roads) and express lanes for high-speed through traffic as is common in the State of Texas.

            Which means that, for example, unlike the Top End of the I-285 in which there are very few, if any, viable through surface crosstown routes within several miles of the severely-congested road, there are numerous surface routes that run parallel to I-635, meaning that I-635 is not basically the only crosstown option for regional traffic on the Northside of Dallas as the I-285 Top End Perimeter pretty much is for cross-regional traffic between the I-85 NE and I-75 NW Corridors in Atlanta seeing as though the nearest even remotely-viable option for cross-regional traffic is GA 140/Holcomb Bridge Road-GA 92/Crossville Road which runs anywhere between 3 and 17 miles north of I-285.

        • seekingtounderstand says:

          It was Gena Evans and the DOT board never gave approval. No one did.
          How did this happen. And people want us to give them more money?
          Its insanity to trust them.

      • South GA Bulldog says:

        Where do you suppose the State gets the BILLIONS of dollars that it would cost to do your plan? You over a lot of possible solutions but you don’t offer any way to fund your plan.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        I also think that we not only should we double-deck the entire I-285 Perimeter (especially the I-285 West Wall and the I-285 Top End which see the heaviest truck traffic), but all of the freeway system where applicable (with the GA 400 Extension tunneling under the Atlanta Financial Center in Buckhead and the South Leg of I-285 tunneling under the airport, double-decking those sections of freeway is not physically possible, though GDOT left enough right-of-way to horizontially the road to as many as 18 lanes in width through those tunnels under airport runways).

        I know that you are personally not a big fan of mass transit, but the irony of this is that we would likely need to lean heavily on mass transit usage and probably carpooling during the course of the reconstruction of the freeway system to include upper and lower levels as already exceptionally-heavy traffic would be severely-disrupted during the course of what would most assuredly be this state’s largest public works project ever.

        The prospect that we would most likely have to lean heavily on mass transit during the reconstruction of the freeway system to include upper and lower decks would mean that in addition to the massive investment that it would take to totally reconstruct the freeway system, there would also have to be a massive up-front investment into mass transit lines that motorists would be able to use to avoid being stuck in the massive traffic jams that will ensue during the course of construction when existing freeway capacity would be sharply reduced (Remember how difficult it was to get around on the Interstate system during the “Freeing-the-Freeways” reconstruction project back in the 1980’s ? Well it would be at-least 2-3 times more difficult to get around now because with 5.8 million residents, the Atlanta Region has more than twice the roughly 2.7 million-inhabitant population that it had when the “Freeing-the-Freeways” project was completed back in the late 1980’s which means that the traffic jams would likely be more than twice-as-worse during that reconstruction project back in the ’80’s).

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Dir L,

        The state also tried your idea of the Outer Outer Perimeter concept by proposing to bring back the Northern Arc under a new name, but much farther out north from Atlanta back in 2007 (roughly 30-50 miles out from I-285 instead of only 20 miles out) but had to back-off from the idea due to fear of the idea and severe indifference from the Republican-dominated State Legislature whose political base of power lies in the suburban and exurban Northern counties of the Atlanta Region (Cobb, Gwinnett, Bartow, Cherokee, Forsyth, Hall, etc) that played a key role in helping to defeat the original Northern Arc proposal back in 2002 (especially in Bartow, Cherokee and Forsyth which have since filled in the proposed right-of-way of the road with heavy high-end residential development), intense interests of environmental activists in that area that is includes the foothills and the southernmost mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians and a negative public feedback once the media got wind of the plan.

        • dirL says:

          Sorry I have not responded, I had to go check out a friends band Down at Vinyl. When the Strippers changed shift at the Cheeta it got interesting. I agree with almost everything you are saying. I would gladly make an alter to the false God of mass transit if it meant getting a double decked 285 and 400 and an outer perimeter. I live near Duluth and I never understood the rejection of the Northern Arc. If you ever need to go from Duluth to Rome or just on a trip up to NashVegas it would greatly reduce your time. I know individuals do not want to sell their property or be stuck next to a highway but these things would improve the majority of people’s lives. I think we are too polarized as a people to get the right things done without great leadership. In Georgia it would take some concessions to get this done. First do away with the toll on 400 and the current hot and hov lanes. You could include Hot lanes as part of the redesign but you would have to sell it hard. The city of Atlanta and most of the metro would have to get some goodies too. I realistically think there is no solution to Marta or Mass transit in this City. We have no natural boundaries such as rivers or lakes and the City grew without the infrastructure of New York or Chicago. As much as some people believe Mass transit is the solution just one look at completely empty bus’es in Gwinnett County aught to convince anyone otherwise. All that pollution and gas so a driver can drive back and forth in an Air conditioned tin can should make greenies turn red with anger. But, like I said, pay them off with some dumb waste of money to get their endorsement to the real solutions and probably get the Feds to buy into it too.

          And South Ga Bulldawgie, you are absolutely right ! There is no money to do any of this at this time. It would take some real leadership to finagle the funding from the Feds by promising that mass transit crap, I think we should get the private company that develops the Air filtering stations to pay for all their stuff because that technology will save the world and they will make billions on patents and such (we can be the test case) and oh my Good Lawd we need to engage a Community Activist to convince local business’s to chip in to improve their business’s too. We shouldn’t pay for Arthur Blank’s( the financial backer of an illegal dog fighting ring….really think about it) stadium either. I would also like to see the state do away with all property taxes and income taxes and go to a straight sales tax with no exemptions. That way criminal activity is taxed, Churches and other mooching nonprofits are taxed and people that use our roadways are taxed on the way to Florida, Illegal aliens, terrorist and welfare bums are all taxed….everyone wins !!!! Oh and also legalize Drugs, Prostitution and Gambling and make sure the business’s all collect sales tax.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Interesting that you were at the Cheetah as I have a buddy who drives limousines who once drove a shuttle for a wedding party in Midtown in which the woman in charge of planning and managing the wedding gave strict that he not drive past the Cheetah so as not to possibly tempt the men or some of the women in the party with any impure ideas, which meant that he had to drive blocks out of the way just to shuttle the party a few blocks the directly down Spring Street so as not to offend the sensibilities of full-grown adults who could not handle the sight of a strip club.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “I would gladly make an alter to the false God of mass transit if it meant getting a double decked 285 and 400 and an outer perimeter.”

            You likely could get a double-decked I-285 and maybe a double-decked GA 400 only OUTSIDE the Perimeter.
            It would likely be both physically and politically impossible to ever double-deck GA 400 Inside-the-Perimeter as GA 400 tunnels under the Atlanta Financial Center in Buckhead and GDOT has a deal with road expansion-averse Intown neighborhood activists never to widen or expand the GA 400 extension so as to actively encourage motorists to ride mass transit inside of I-285, which is why the MARTA North Line runs down the much of the median of the GA 400 Extension.
            Also, a resurrection of the Outer Perimeter or Northern Arc in the form of a East-West Bypass between I-75 in Northwest Georgia and I-85 in Northeast Georgia or anywhere else would be highly-unlikely given that the concept of an Outer Perimeter or Northern Arc anywhere near close to their power base in the suburban and exurban counties of the Northern Atlanta Region is effectively politically-radioactive after the high political cost exacted in the fierce public backlash to the first Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc proposal a decade ago which saw Roy Barnes and the long-ruling and super-dominant Democrat Party thrown out the door head first by voters in the 2002 Election.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            Basically, view the double-decking of I-285 as a substitute for an Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc that will likely never-ever be built.

            “I live near Duluth and I never understood the rejection of the Northern Arc. If you ever need to go from Duluth to Rome or just on a trip up to NashVegas it would greatly reduce your time. I know individuals do not want to sell their property or be stuck next to a highway but these things would improve the majority of people’s lives.”

            As to why the Northern Arc was rejected…Overall there were a lot of moving pieces as to why the road was rejected by the public, but it all basically boils down to that the public got very angry when they found out that a bunch of people in state government had bought land near where the future interchanges were going to be on the road so that they could profit off of their insider knowledge of what had been billed by the state as a toll road with limited exits that would only be to relieve I-285 of increasingly-heavy truck traffic.

            Add to that the objections from environmentalists (which ironically includes amongst their ranks very many conservatives who like to bike, camp, hike, hunt and fish in the vicinity of the area in which the Northern Arc was proposed to run), the objections of anti-roadbuilding Intown neighborhood activists who thought that the new road through the fast-growing Northern suburbs and exurbs would help accelerate the decline of the city and that the $2 billion that would be spent to build the road was too much to be spent on a road project and would have been better utilized on expanding mass transit inside and just outside I-285.

            Also add in the objections of residents of Bartow and then much more exurban Cherokee and Forsyth counties who did not want the new road to bring to their farther outlying areas the type of rampant overdevelopment that has turned once-suburban Cobb County and once-exurban Gwinnett County into highly-populated and overcrowded counties with many of the same social ills that plague the urban core and the objections of private landowners who lived both directly in the path and adjacent to and near the proposed right-of-way of the road who wanted to retain the option of selling their land to the highest-bidding real estate developer in an area that was increasingly being heavily-developed with high-end residential development.

            It was basically the combination of all of those factions that came together to defeat the Northern Arc and strike a lethal blow to the roadbuilding moment in the Atlanta Region, the effects of which we are still dealing with today as there has not been a new freeway built in the Atlanta Region in the nearly 20 years since the GA 400 Extension opened in 1993.

            Ironically, there are similar factions on both the right and the left of the political spectrum (from anti-tax and anti-transit Tea Partiers, to anti-road Intown transit activists, to anti-road and pro-transit environmentalists, to anti-road and anti-development suburban and exurban NIMBYs) that have come together to lead the way in what looks to be an increasingly effective fight against the increasingly-unpopular T-SPLOST which will likely result in its defeat, a defeat which will likely deal a virtual fatal political blow to already nearly-impossible efforts to make even modest expansions to an inadequate road network.

            If you are a proponent of significant road expansion of any kind, then the defeat of the T-SPLOST is likely not very good news for you, both in immediate aftermath of the July 31st vote and in the long-run.

            If you are a proponent of significantly expanding transit and restricting future road expansion, then the defeat of the T-SPLOST is likely much better news for you in the long-run as the extreme political reticence of the legislature to deal with the infinitely more complicated-than-meets-the-eye issue of transportation that will likely result in the aftermath of the defeat of the T-SPLOST could lead to the extreme starvation of roadbuilding funds for the Atlanta Region for an extended period of time due to the poison pill in the law that commissioned the tax that penalizes local governments in regions that reject the T-SPLOST by forcing them to pay three times as much for roadbuilding projects than before by requiring them to pay a 30% match to state funds on projects instead of the current 10% match.

          • Dave Bearse says:

            Sorry for this repeat comment. I mistakenly posted it much later in the thred.

            dirL, Enconsed in Duluth and no doubt commuting on I-85 to Decatur, you may have only a limited observation of GCT ridership.

            I commute daily between Doraville and Norcross, frequently on Buford Hwy. I’ll refute your observations with mine. I typically see a half dozen bus stops with more than a half dozen people when I commute on Buford Hwy.

  5. Whrlwnd13 says:

    Saxby is trying to walk both sides of the fence as unfortunately so many in our state legislature are doing. These people who are supposed to represent all of us need to look at the facts then take a stand one way or the other. if you’re going to vote for it. tell us so we know where you stand, but don’t say you will not endorse it because that is exactly what you are doing. The Pro T-splost people will stand with you.. perhaps.

    On the other hand tell us you are against it, if you are, and the people will stand behind you. We need leaders that will be brave enough to stand against Gov. Deal, SOS Kemp and the Chamber of Commerce that are spending our tax dollars to get this boondoggle passed.

    The facts of this matter go squarely against passing this Tax. The projects will not resove the traffic congestion issues we face. Mike Alexander from the ARC said it won’t improve the average commute times. 52% of the tax dollars collected in the Atlanta region go to Transit. 40 million dollars for Gwinnett transit (which was 6 million in the red in 2011 4 million in the red in 2010) are we going to pay 40 million for more empty busses?? 95 million for a study along the I85 corridor, Here’s a study NO we don’t want light rail. 1.8 million for a half mile of sidewalk (& multi-use trails) on RT29 in Lilburn.

    SOS Kemp’s ballot manipulation, Gov. Deal’s arm twisting the way our legislature was afraid to vote for a tax increase so they passed it on to the voters.. Come on, do we need more reasons to vote NO???

    Vote NO July 31st!!

  6. Three Jack says:

    10 Best cities for public transportation (USNews and World Report 2/2011):
    1. Denver-Aurora, Colo.
    2. New York-Newark, N.Y.-N.J.-Conn.
    3. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, Calif.
    4. Boston, Mass.-N.H.-R.I.
    5. Portland, Ore.
    6. (tie) San Jose, Calif.
    6. (tie) Salt Lake City, Utah
    8. San Diego, Calif.
    9. Seattle, Wash.
    10. Honolulu, Hawaii

    10 Worst cities for traffic (
    1. Honolulu, Hawaii
    2. Los Angeles
    3. San Francisco
    4. New York
    5. Bridgeport, Connecticut
    6. Washington, DC
    7. Seattle
    8. Austin, Texas
    9. Boston, Massachusetts
    10. Chicago

    Ironic how many cities are on both lists. Public transportation is not the answer thus neither is TSPLOST.

    • John Konop says:


      The real test is capacity not traffic. If you have more capacity than you have more commerce ie jobs,jobs………. Georgia has major advantages via the airport, 75,20 and the port in southern Georgia. Also the Olympics help to fuel the financial service industry here with the investment into networks. Finally Georgia Tech and Emory as well Georgia are major draw via the strangth of the institutions. The issue is will Georgia fall behing places like NC and Texas which are investing heavily in all of the above at full force. Now you can make this ideological debate or deal with reality. In business will call this it is what it is. And if we do not get it together we will fall behind the race.

      • Three Jack says:


        Not sure of your point with that post, but I’m guessing you think mass transit is a critical part of any solution.

        My point is that public/government transportation is not necessarily the solution or even a significant part of the solution. It it very costly on a per mile basis to construct and takes decades to buildout. Then there is ongoing maintenance and of course the government funding that every system requires since none are able to operate profitably (or breakeven…in business, this is called bankrupt since you took that approach). TSPLOST dedicates a significant portion of collections to mass transit. If for no other reason, that alone should be sufficient to cause any thinking person to vote NO (Saxby proves yet again that he has no clue).

        The two surveys posted above are somewhat anecdotal, but I think it is clear that even with good to superior public trans systems, traffic still poses major problems for those areas. Why do you think Atlanta should join the lists?

  7. debbie0040 says:

    I got a good chuckle out of Sen. Thompson’s remarks that MAVEN and ARC are neutral.. Yea the same people that tell you T-SPLOST will relieve congestion are saying that MAVEN and ARC are neutral.. And they swonder why people don’t believe them..

    • John Konop says:


      In all seriousness are you concerned about infastructure ? And if so what do you think will happen when this bill fails? I see many issues with this bill, but I am still not sure if this is as good as it gets. And nothing is not an option in my opinion. Finally the Tea Party could gain real credibility of being a problem solving group, over it just bing a bunch of pissed off people against everything if they worked on a real plan.

      • Harry says:


        Assuming this is defeated, what is your Plan B? I am curious to get your thoughts. I have an idea that the Legislature in deciding how to appropriate DOT funds, should define the problem components (for example traffic signal synchronization) and then apply overall cost/benefit analysis to each component to determine determine where the potential travel time savings is greatest as compared to cost. Having determined the strategic approach to arrive at the most cost effective solutions, and providing legislative guidance on funding allocations to the components, Legislature should mandate that DOT take an Activity Based Costing (ABC) approach to determine the budget of each proposal and for also for maintaining control during the construction phase of the approved projects. This is not rocket science, but it’s not being done at present.

        Geographical location should not play a role – in other words, where there is the greatest cost-benefit need and payoff should get the funding rather than following a geographical formula. Should there be political jockeying? Sure, but this ought to occur at the point of discussing strategic objectives, not determining the funding of specific projects.

        Here’s on example of a starting point on how to begin to analyze the cost side of the cost/benefit ratio of one problem component – signal control improvement. This is taken from the US DOT “Intelligent Transportation Systems for Traffic Signal Control”:
        1. Devote resources. To achieve an “A” on traffic signal performance, more sustained resources must be devoted to signals and the professionals who design, operate and maintain them.
        2. Make wise investments. Investment must be made in current signal hardware, timing updates, and maintenance resources.
        3. Provide training. Well-trained traffic signal technicians and engineers are needed to properly operate and maintain traffic signals and to preserve the investment in the hardware and timing updates.

        • John Konop says:


          First we must all agree that increasing capacity is the goal for people and commercial goods. Second increasing capacity feeding into our metro airport, port in south 75 and 20 are key since they are key access views to everywhere here and the world. Third I would put all ideas on the table from rail, regional airport, ITS, public/private projects…… ie no silver bullets.Forth, the focus point would be the best way to feed people and goods via the states veins in and out the above 4 major assets metro airport,port,75 and 20. Five, we need a statewide committee of people to put together a plan with a cross section of skill sets business, city panning, engerneering………BTW NO OFFICE HOLDERS and that becomes the project list. Sixth I do think it should be paid for based on a combination of user fees/ toll fees, possable private/public money and a gas tax not a general sales tax. We should associate fees and taxes to area of the budget it affects. As you know I have always advocated user fees verse income or sales taxes when we can do it. And if we have sales taxes, it should be associated as much as possible related to the service provided. User fees and taxes should be a carrot sticks approach or people will abuse the service. Finally the above ITS concepts you posted would definitely help, but we need much more to compete with what NC and Texas is doing.

          • joe says:

            Third I would put all ideas on the table from rail, regional airport, ITS, public/private projects……

            Rail must include heavy. Put one additional freight train on the tracks, and remove 100 semis from the interstates.

            • John Konop says:

              Good point, you are right this is not just about people it is commercial goods as well. And if done right it makes both sides more efficient.

          • Harry says:

            I like your big picture ideas of looking at all modes – not just public roads, and all funding ideas including public-private and in some cases subsidized private. Let’s study and discuss all of it. However, I have a less optimistic view of future growth potential in, for example, Atlanta. There will be and should be limits on growth in all metro areas worldwide. The evolution of internet resources together with a more distributed, less-hierarchical (dare I say, in some cases outsourced) organizational model have and will require fewer people and distribution massing into mega-metros. At least I hope so. Smaller communities are greener, healthier communities. That’s my opinion, and I don’t know that “build it and they will come” is sustainable ad infinitum.

            • John Konop says:

              You make a valid point about growth and the build it and they will come concept. But, Georia Has a unique advantage via the transportation assets of metro airport, port in south, 75 and 20. But the veins leading in and out of the major transportation points are screwed up. And if we did not have the above advantages I would agree with your growth issue you brought up. And I do think some areas around the country will experience growth issues if they fall behind on infastructuren via the world wide competition. That is why if we put the right grown-ups n a room, Georgia could be a big winner. But if we do nothing it could be rough for jobs in the future.

              As far green space I agree with you, that is a big factor for quality of life for many of us. I do think well thought out planning can both increase capacity as well as maintain green space ie bike paths, cross usage parks for sports as well as trails………

              • Harry says:

                There may be some more growth potential around the airport, although I don’t believe the immediate vicinity is very development-friendly. But, if a good case can be made, then I would support additional development. For example, as Joe mentioned, public funding of intermodal transfer points where rail lines are in proximity to interstates, would be good to look at, if the result would be to get more long-haul trucks off the roads. In order to be attractive for trucking companies, rail lines would also need additional siding upgrades which would cost money but may well improve revenues. These are specialized issues which should be studied and discussed.

                Concerning mass transit, my main concern is that, beyond the narrow confines of the existing MARTA system, no one has been able to make a convincing cost/benefit argument for further expanding fixed rail mass transit in the region – including the Clifton Corridor.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  “There may be some more growth potential around the airport, although I don’t believe the immediate vicinity is very development-friendly.”

                  From the standpoint of some of the questionable political leadership of the municipalities that are immediately adjacent to the airport, then no, the immediate vicinity of the airport is not very-development friendly at all.

                  But from a purely logistical standpoint, with three Interstate highways (I-85, I-75 & I-285), two existing freight rail line right-of-ways with the potential for future regional commuter rail transit service and even the existing MARTA heavy rail transit line, the immediate vicinity is a logistical wet dream that is not found in near many major airports on the continent.

                • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                  “Concerning mass transit, my main concern is that, beyond the narrow confines of the existing MARTA system, no one has been able to make a convincing cost/benefit argument for further expanding fixed rail mass transit in the region – including the Clifton Corridor.”

                  You want a convincing cost/benefit argument for further expanding fixed rail mass transit in the region?
                  Go sit in gridlocked rush hour traffic on virtually any one of the region’s spoke freeways (I-85 SW, I-20 W, I-75 NW, GA Hwy 400, GA Hwy 141/PIB, I-85 NE, US Hwy 78/Stone Mtn. Frwy, I-20 E, I-675 S, I-75 S, the dreaded I-75/85 Downtown Connector, or the dreaded I-285 Top End Perimeter, etc) or major surface roads (US Hwy 41/Cobb Pkwy, GA Hwy 280/South Cobb Drive, Windy Hill Rd, GA Hwy 120/Dallas Hwy/Whitlock Ave, East-West Connector in Cobb, GA Hwy 20/Buford Drive, GA Hwy 140/Holcomb Bridge Rd/Jimmy Carter Blvd, GA Hwy 9/Roswell Rd, Cheshire Bridge Rd, Lenox Rd, Sidney Marcus Blvd, GA Hwy 13/Buford Hwy, Piedmont Rd or the world-famous Peachtree Street in Atlanta, etc as I have personally been stuck in gridlocked rush hour traffic on all of those roads) especially during a major traffic delay caused by incidents like a car fire, or a bus fire, or a multiple-vehicle pile-up with fatalities, or someone threatening to jump off of a freeway overpass, or the aftermath of someone who actually has jumped off of a freeway overpass and was spattered all over creation by 75 mph traffic or even something as seemingly harmless as a light mist, etc.

                  You want a convincing cost/benefit argument for expanding fixed rail mass transit in the Clifton Corridor?
                  Go sit in gridlocked traffic on the wholly-inadequate and overcapacity mostly 2-lane roads and very rare 4-lane city streets while trying to get into and/or off of the Emory University campus during much of the day.

                  Time, or the amount of it spent and wasted sitting in severe traffic congestion for lack of any other transportation options other than to sit in traffic gridlock on undersized and overcapacity roads in an urban core that is virtually built-out (meaning that most gridlocked major roads and even freeways cannot be expanded both physically or politically), is the convincing cost/benefit argument for expanding fixed rail mass transit in the Atlanta Region.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      Oh, there’s money, we just have to know where to find it and some of the best places to find it are not going to be the usual (uncreative and imaginative) places where many people and public officials have always looked, like to tax increases, more tax increases, etc.

                      Instead of the usual standby politically contentious and politically-unfeasible tax increases (as there is no way on God’s green earth that a simple 1% tax increase like the much-despised T-SPLOST could ever possibly fund all of our overwhelming transportation needs at this point), the best places to find the money to finance these critical transportation infrastructure investments are going to be places like distanced-based user fees for roads and user fees in the form of distance-based and zone-based fares, public-private partnerships and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenue from new development that pops up along transit lines) for transit.

                      No need for counterproductive and foolhardy attempts at politically-contentious and unpopular tax increases to finance transportation projects of a very-limited scope when individual users can (and must) fully finance the pieces of transportation infrastructure that they utilize with each individual use.

                      The days of begging for increasingly unlikely tax increases from an increasingly disillusioned and distrustful public to finance minimal transportation upgrades are over.

                      There is no excuse for the Atlanta Region (and the State of Georgia) to not invest substantially in its transportation infrastructures when our competitors in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Northern Virginia are all much more comprehensively investing in theirs with the expressly overt intent of overtaking and leaving us behind economically by taking the jobs and industry that we seem hellbent on handing to them on a silver platter at the moment.

                    • John Konop says:


                      Last Dem should be on the committe on a macro we are on the same page. But it would take a group of people with a pragmatic view to fix the problem. We are sit this point via this issue bring a political football over an exercise on what is best for the state. I have seen the issues at companies when department heads private agendas drive business decisions over what is best for the company. I am all for bringing in different perspectives and open debate when it is about solving the problem verse someone manipulating the situation for private gain. Finally to much of the debate on the issue is obviously been centered around politics and talking points over pragmatic solutions.

      • debbie0040 says:

        John, we have released alternatives time and time again. You just choose not to read them or agree with them. Where have you been? We have credibility now with the average voter.. There was a poll released months ago that showed roughly 85% of Republican voters had a favorable opinion of the tea party. We polled higher than church goers.

        As far as rail, it is not cost effective to build new rail lines. Why not just used the existing rail structure Norfolk-Southern and CSX already have. Their lines could be leased..

        • John Konop says:


          In all due respect polls show that about 20 percent of voters support the Tea Party.Also your demographic is weighted heavily toward older voters which is not a smart long term strategy. If your goal for the Tea Party is to be a voice just within the GOP you have done a good job short term.

          As far as your cost analysis on rail, it is very short term logic. If our country had followed your logic we would of never opened up the west with Lewis and Clark, highway system, electronic grid,ports,airport system……I am sure you understand the above projects would not meet your ROI model, which would of killed the cornerstone for the growth in our country. And if we follow your model, we will fall behind not only other states but the world. The two fastest growing economies in the world Brazil and China are heavily investing into infrastructure.

          The reason I have not actively supported the Tea Party is the lack of realalistic policy presented by them. I was a voice in the wind warning about fiscal policy before the Tea Party,and many leaders like you blindly supported irrational fiscal policy like No Child Left Behind, Medicare Part D, War On Drugs…………….

          The real issue for the Tea Party is do you want to be a protest voice for older white peole or a bi-partisan voice on policy. Spin it anyway you want but that is the box you are in.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          “As far as rail, it is not cost effective to build new rail lines. Why not just used the existing rail structure Norfolk-Southern and CSX already have. Their lines could be leased..”

          That’s a good idea as the NS and CSX rail lines are already leased…By NS and CSX from the State of Georgia who owns the rail right-of-ways that the rail companies use to lay their tracks on.

          The State of Georgia actually already has what are, as of now, extremely unfunded and crude plans to use the NS and CSX right-of-ways for regional commuter rail service.

          Plans for regional commuter rail service that as of right now would have to share what are already some of the busiest freight rail tracks on the entire North American continent that are nearly maxed-out on capacity, particularily when it comes to the section of Norfolk Southern/Amtrak right-of-way between Atlanta and Austell (which is the site of the busiest rail-to-truck/truck-to-rail intermodal facility on the continent east of the Mississippi River in the Whitaker Intermodal Facility) and the section of CSX (Western & Atlantic) right-of-way between Atlanta and Cartersville.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          And you are very correct that it is not cost effective to build new rail lines.

          But at this point we are way beyond cost-effective solutions as any solution that includes either upgrades and expansion to the road network or expansion of rail that will effectively relieve or help traffic flow quicker and better is going to be very expensive, so expensive that there is no way that we’ll ever be able to increase taxes high enough to finance the timely construction of what is truly-needed to bring North Georgia’s severely-lagging transportation network into the 21st Century without being counterproductive, which is why the utilization of user fees, extensive private financing (public-private partnerships) and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenues from new development along transit lines) is so intensely critically important.

          Heck, we’re talking AT LEAST $300-500 million per proposed commuter rail line at a bare minimum that will be needed to make each existing freight rail corridor suitable to support minimal commuter rail service while we’re talking tens-of-billions of dollars to expand the freeway network to be able to accommodate the increasingly heavy amount of freight truck traffic that must use the Interstate system in the Atlanta Region.

          Metro Atlantans and Georgians must face the very hard reality that making the much-needed investments in our transportation infrastructure to keep people, traffic and freight moving and keep our region competitive on the national and world economic stages is neither going to be simple, easy, quick or cheap at this very critical juncture (see Dallas and their $5 billion project to double-deck the very busy I-635 LBJ Frwy Loop across the Northside of the city).

          Heck, just the project to construct reversible HOT lanes in the I-75/I-575 Northwest Corridor alone is proposed to cost over $1 billion at a bare minimum.

            • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

              It never hurts to know what the competition is doing as we can be sure that they know and are expertly aware of what we are and are not doing.

              There are many cities out there across the U.S., particularly across the South, that would literally kill to have the very abundant educational, logistical, geographical, natural and cultural assets that we have in the Atlanta Region (see Alabama and Florida’s attempts to completely kill-off our growth by attempting to permanently cut-off our access to our own Lake Lanier).

              While Atlanta dithers and hems and haws over whether to make even the most minimal bare bones transportation (and water) infrastructure investments, other cities, Charlotte and, especially, Dallas in particular, are forging ahead with plans for greatness with Atlanta set squarely in their sights.

              Dallas is spending on just ONE transportation project ($5 billion on the LBJ Express to do what most Atlantans consider comically absurd in effectively doubling the capacity of one of their busiest and most congested freeways by double-decking the I-635 across the Northside of Dallas) an amount that is almost equal to what Atlanta doesn’t even want to spend over 10 years on its ENTIRE transportation infrastructure.

              Atlanta is barely playing “Tiddly Winks” with its “would-be-laughable-if-it-weren’t-real” almost non-existent level of transportation infrastructure investment while Dallas is playing championship-level chess with its virtually non-stop massive levels of transportation infrastructure investment in its quest to become the “Mecca of the Southern Plains”.

      • Dave Bearse says:

        Enconsed in Duluth and no doubt commuting on I-85 to Decatur, you may have only a limited observation of GCT ridership.

        I commute between Doraville and Norcross, frequently on Buford Hwy. I’ll refute your observations with mine. I typically see a half dozen bus stops with more than a half dozen people when I commute on Buford Hwy.

  8. Dave Bearse says:

    Me, I stopped reading Selzer’s statement at “[t]his project list is a trap for taxpayers that consumes 52% of the money on rail transit projects…”

    It’s willful misrepresentation, even excluding the TIA/T-SPLOST 15% being returned to localities which would nearly all be spent on roads. TIA/T-SPLOST will use hundreds of millions to fund bus operations. TIA/T-SPLOST will make I-75 corridor capital improvements that may never progress beyond supporting bus service (but will likely improve highway travel even without considering reduction in traffic due to tranist).

    Selzer’s 52% statement, given his credentials, puts him in a class with the Bartow County Tea Party Leader complaining that her gas taxes funding MARTA. Charlie, I know you’re rubbing the power structure the wrong way railing against the unethical conduct of the likes of Balfour, Rogers and others, but you probably should notch down your level of respect for Selzer.

    Metro Atlanta transporation is the Costa Concordia. Showboating GaGOP leadership hit the reef and is abandoning ship. Rogers has already walked away from it, just as he did his flea-bag hotel. Good luck figuring out what to do with the July 31 wreck. Businesses and industry need only rebook on the S.S. Charlotte or S.S. Texas.

  9. debbie0040 says:

    Dave, speaking of willful misrepresenation, I notice the CTM ads show roads and cars improvement to get our traffic untangled. That is grossly mis-representing the project list considering the majority of the regional funding will go to fund mass transit projects. Why isn’t transit included in your mailpieces?

    We do have a Plan B. Vote this down and we will all work together on a better solution .

    • Dave Bearse says:

      My remark concerned Selzer’s letter.

      You undermine your admirable stance on ethics equating a CTM picture/graphic prepared by a special interest advocacy group to the credibility of a letter from a House Transportation Committeeman.

      Tea Party leadership fueling opposition with allegations of cronyism, waste and mismanagment belies intention to comprimise. None of that changes with a project list change. Add to that Tea Party contempt for 45% of the state, the better solution being road-centric, and your statement about raising gas taxes when gas goes down to $2 gallon, are indicative that a Tea Party Plan B, whatever it is, won’t include any working together, and will never fly.

      Deference to the Tea Party is what’s put TIA/T-SPLOST in jeopardy. I’m now concerned that the well is poisoned. I’d change my vote, except that it would only empower the current leadership to continue it’s less than mediocre governance.

  10. debbie0040 says:

    And Dave, in some areas we don’t know where that 15% that goes back to counties will go. Some have not released their project list and the local project list are not binding. Counties can release project lists that list roads in order to get votes, but they can change it . They can have more studies in the local list so they can pay off political cronies like the studies in the regional list.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      And your point? Is it that a signficant amount of that 15% will be going to transit? If not, the remark is off point.

  11. debbie0040 says:

    I can assure you once this is defeated, we will be working with other groups to come up with solutions. We are meeting with Sierra Club next week to see where there is consensus. We plan on reaching out to Sen. Fort and the NAACP . We understand their concerns about the need for infrastructure improvement with mass transit in Fulton and DeKalb. MARTA needs to be stabilized before it is expanded and that is also a big concern for everyone . The folks in Fulton and DeKalb should not be double taxed for transportation improvements.. The folks in South DeKalb should not be shafted as far as the project list. Our issue is not mass transit – it is the funding mechanism. I think the 1% “‘MARTA” tax the folks in Fulton and DeKalb pay needs to be changed. Don’t conservatives believe in local control? Then why are the tax-payers in Fulton and DeKalb told what they can do with the tax-dollars they are paying for MARTA? A portion of the hotel-motel tax Atlanta receives should go to help fund mass transit operations in Atlanta. That would be a far better use than helping build a new stadium for the Falcons.

    We have found much agreement already on the fact the ten county region was flawed and there needs to be a different process. We are already in agreement that the additional funding should come from more than one revenue stream and not reliant on sales tax.

    The key is the process and that is something we already have much agreement on. You get the right process then everything else will fall into place.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “The folks in South DeKalb should not be shafted as far as the project list.”

      It is very difficult to see how getting a $225 MILLION bus rapid transit line in the I-20 Corridor is getting the shaft?

      I guess the folks in South DeKalb are throwing a hissy fit because they only got a lowly $225 million (nearly a quarter-of-a-billion dollars) in express bus service upgrades instead of a billion-dollar-plus rail transit line that is not necessarily the most compatible use for a sprawling automobile-oriented development-dominated freeway right-of-way and corridor.

      Rail transit lines that run for an extended distance in a freeway right-of-way cannot necessarily financially support their own existence all that well because they are not necessarily capable of collecting their own property tax revenues or generating increased ridership by attracting the type of dense transit-friendly development built to a walkable human scale that rail transit lines not in a freeway right-of-way or rail transit lines in a railroad right-of-way can like if placed in an existing rail right-of-way that runs through a more densely-developed corridor of historic rail towns like the multiple Norfolk Southern or CSX lines that you suggested earlier.

    • Bob Loblaw says:

      Don’t conservatives believe in local control?

      Yes, we do. And we generally don’t start out on policy matters by looking to find consensus with ultra-liberals like the Sierra Club.

      • debbie0040 says:

        Oh really? Is that so Bob? What do you call Kasim Reed? He is an ultra liberal but Gov. Deal sure is partnering with him to pass T-SPLOST. He even wrote an OP-ED piece praising him and working with him.

        • John Konop says:

          Reed an ultra liberal? Debbie fiscally he has been more conservative than many republicans you helped elect in the past ie pension issue, cut backs………

          • Three Jack says:

            I’m with you on this one John. Reed ‘ultra-liberal’? That’s a totally baseless description of the mayor who is more fiscally conservative than many in the state legislature being elected with the ‘R’ behind their name. Debbie probably still has her panties in a wad over Occupy supposedly getting preferential treatment by the mayor during their 15 seconds of fame last year.

        • Bob Loblaw says:

          So what? Is the Governor supposed to just treat our largest and capitol city’s mayor like an outcast because he’s not a fire-breathing conservative? Its the Mayor of Atlanta. Not the Mayor of Augusta. Isn’t Atlanta’s success somewhat important to the state and shouldn’t our state’s leaders work with Atlanta’s leaders? Their offices are across the street from one another. Is he supposed to throw bombs from Capitol Hill because the constituency in the city differs from that throught Georgia?

          Sometimes, people work together even though they don’t see eye to eye on every issue. Kind of like you and the Sierra Club or even worse, getting in bed with your commie buddies at Common Cause that’ll raise your taxes to fund campaigns.

  12. Harry says:

    Unfortunately, in the Atlanta and the America of the 21st Century there just aren’t going to be enough resources to do anything beyond marginal improvements, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is a region that has seen a tremendous outflow of lucerative, quality jobs and an influx of less affluent population. The same is true to a lesser extent on the national level as well. Printing money out of thin air will not fix the problem, rather just cause inflation. Likewise, the private sector like the public sector will not find it feasible or even possible to do much of anything on infrastructure.

    It’s great to be optimistic and think big thoughts, that’s the American way, but we’re in a new era in America and the world. In the Atlanta region we’ll be lucky to just properly maintain what infrastructure we already have.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Likewise, the private sector like the public sector will not find it feasible or even possible to do much of anything on infrastructure…..It’s great to be optimistic and think big thoughts, that’s the American way, but we’re in a new era in America and the world. In the Atlanta region we’ll be lucky to just properly maintain what infrastructure we already have.”

      Then I guess that it’s too bad for us that our competitors in North Carolina and Texas don’t share those same thoughts and views on infrastructure investment.

      North Carolina is forging ahead with an ambitious multibillion-dollar plan to buildout their Interstate system in the form of new loops, new bypasses around principal cities and new mainline Interstate highway while Texas is forging ahead with an even more ambitious plan to buildout a multimodal transportation network in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

      • Harry says:

        We should study and learn from the ways Texas and North Carolina get things done, but it doesn’t seem to involve taxes being raised by referendum. Texas is worthy of emulation because they don’t have a state income tax (the state sales tax rate is 6.25%). North Carolina it seems has gone out of control on fiscal matters, and is hopefully due for a political correction in November.

        • John Konop says:


          I lived in Texas and travel back a lot. When you add in local Sales taxes it is about 10 percent. Also they have vat type taxes on products ie the TABC has a VAT tax on every alcohol drink…. And it does seem property taxes are higher as well. Finally being an oil state they had very large endowments for schools.

          • Harry says:

            Yes, I was trying to compare our state rate of 5% (assuming T-SPLOST passes) with their state rate of 6.25%. Not a big difference, but the main advantage Texas has is no income tax.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Some of North Carolina’s major road construction projects in progress and around principal cities-

      The I-485 Charlotte Outer Loop-

      The northwest portion of the I-540 Outer Loop around Raleigh-

      The Northern Durham Parkway, a new northern bypass around the Northern suburbs of Durham-

      A new tolled controlled-access highway connecting Gastonia and Charlotte-

      The I-785/I-840/I-85/I-73 Interstate Loop around Greensboro-

      A new Interstate freeway connector outside of Asheville-

      A new tolled controlled-access road connecting Charlotte and Monroe-

      The tolled southeast section of the I-540 Raleigh Outer Loop-

      A new Northern Beltway around Winston-Salem (future I-274)-

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      Some of Texas’ major transportation infrastucture projects in and around the Dallas-Fort Worth area (I posted a few of these earlier, but I’ll post some of them again along with some new ones just to illustrate the point of just how massively Texas is forging ahead with some ambitious transportation infrastructure projects, and just how much importance the state of Texas places on infrastructure investment, recession or no recession)…

      The ambitious project to double-deck the I-635 LBJ Freeway Loop across the Northside of Dallas:

      The North Tarrant Express project to upgrade and massively expand I-35W, I-820 and Texas Highways 121 & 183 on the North and Northeastsides of Fort Worth:

      Here’s a video publicizing of the roadbuilding innovations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area:
      A video that has brief splices of rush hour traffic jams in Atlanta as a not-so-settle dig at what competing Atlanta is NOT doing to address its overwhelming traffic congestion and mobility issues as Dallas views Atlanta as a direct economic competitor in the global marketplace for jobs and growth that stands directly in the path of Dallas’ hopes, dreams and aspirations for success on the international stage.

      Many Atlantans seem to be keenly unaware of the very high regard in which Dallas holds Atlanta as a competitor.

      Many Atlantans seem to be totally unaware of the depth to which Dallas is envious of the Atlanta Region and the excellent educational, logistical, geographical, topographical and cultural assets that our region possesses.

      Dallas is very envious of our prime educational assets like the historically black colleges of the Atlanta University Center, a still very prestigious engineering school in Georgia Tech (despite the crime) and the school’s membership in an prestigious East Coast academic conference in the ACC, an up-and-coming major urban university with a growing youthful and higher educational presence in Downtown Atlanta in Georgia State University, a very-prestigious Ivy League-caliber private university in Emory, the close distance to an SEC big state school in UGA in Athens and the very major role that UGA helps Atlanta play in the big-time football-dominant SEC.

      Dallas is very envious of our logistical assets like the world’s busiest airport in Hartsfield and the access to the Trans-Atlantic markets of Europe, Africa, Latin America and beyond (Asia) that it provides, the freight rail infrastructure that runs through densely-developed corridors and the direct highway and rail access to one of the fastest-growing seaports on the planet at the Port of Savannah.

      Dallas is very envious of our geographical assets like what most North Texans consider to be a prime central location in relation to the rest of the Southeast at the base of the scenic Southern Appalachians on the Eastern Seaboard relatively close to the Atlantic Ocean.

      Dallas is very envious of our prime topographical and natural assets like the heavily-wooded foothills of the Piedmont Plateau and the even more heavily-wooded low mountain ranges of the Southern Appalachians seeing as how Dallas sits on the mostly flat and sometimes sparcely-wooded prairie land of the Southern Plains.

      Dallas is very envious of our cultural assets like our nationally (and internationally)-recognized underground music scene, our history as a very-major player in the Civil Rights Movement, our relatively close proximity to most of the universities of the SEC and the ACC, our reputation and status as a hotbed of college football in the Southeast.

      While not being at all in the least bit envious of our severe traffic congestion and water supply problems, Dallas is overall very envious of the many assets that Atlanta possess, especially our prime East Coast location as Dallas has a continuing psychological need to economically and culturally prove itself to and measure itself against what it deems to be its East Coast competitors, a group that in the collective civic psyche of Dallas includes Atlanta. It’s a rather unique psychological need that seems to date back to the Dallas Cowboys’ membership in the NFC East in the NFL, as being in a division with teams in East Coast markets has seemingly necessitated the need for a Southern Midwestern Plains city like Dallas to compare and measure itself against Northeastern cities like Washington DC, Philadelphia and, the monster of all cities, New York.

      • Harry says:

        Dallas, Charlotte and other cities should stand on their own merits. They all have positives and negatives. As the old saying goes, we (Atlanta) are our own worst competition.

        Personally, I wouldn’t live in Dallas only because of lack of tree cover and topography… the place looks and feels bland. That’s just me though. People who live there say it’s wonderful. As for North Carolina, it’s not bad but still Mayberry. I know, pot meet kettle. Some of the small towns are nice.

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          You’re right, cities should stand on their own merits, but not all cities and towns are created equal, far from it.

          The reason why Atlanta even exists in its current big international city form is because of the Airport hub that could have easily gone to Birmingham were it not for the really bad PR that city earned and the relatively good PR that Atlanta earned during the Civil Rights’ Era.

          Just like Dallas likes measure itself against East Coast cities and Charlotte likes to measure itself against Atlanta, Atlanta obviously does not stand on its own merits, either as most of Atlanta’s population is from somewhere and the city’s population growth, culture and mood being heavily-affected by the never-ending throngs of invading Northerners.

          And I also have family and friends who live in Dallas and I hear the same thing from them, that they love it, despite the seeming lack of heavy tree cover and hills and mountains compared to a city like Atlanta.

          As for North Carolina, NC has a lot of small “Mayberry” towns like anywhere else, but NC also has all of the major colleges and universities on Tobacco Road and the really big and fast-growing research park (Research Triangle Park in Raleigh-Durham) that collectively are a really big draw for Northeasterners and has led to the Raleigh area and Wake County growing faster than Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and North Carolina nipping right at the heels (no pun intended) of Georgia in terms of population growth, as of late.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Harry, you have made alot of common sense. Thank you for adding your views.

      I think the voting down of TSPLOST would be a “sometimes you win when you loose”.
      The public has a negative view of Ga leadership not helping them but making their lives harder at every turn. Recent lines at the DMV was proof again.
      If we vote this down and vote a few people out of office this will give people a sense of not being run over by our arrogant government.

  13. Baker says:

    I wish I were a fly on the wall when Debbie sits down with the Sierra Club. Methinks they will agree on not much. Kudos for the two groups for getting together though.

    On a related but different note: A good friend of mine this morning (after watching the Georgia Gang), defending his support for TSPLOST told me that when he heard the Sierra Club was against it and so was the Tea Party, he thought it must be a good bill then.

  14. Baker says:

    And this comment applies to the Chip Rogers video: Can anyone honestly tell me they don’t think he’s just sticking a finger in the wind here? ( we can argue about whether that is good or not, some people will say it is I’m sure, but is that not his total motivation?)

  15. Carlyle says:

    Last Dem,
    I don’t know your background but I do know you are very well versed in this subject matter and spot on with your thought process.It’s not only NC and Texas,look how aggressive South Carolina has become in the Logistics arena of late.Their move last week in announcing their inland port location of Greer is a game changer in moving freight in the I-85 corridor and sets up that area of South Carolina well for Economic Development .I think it proves a point that I have championed for sometime and that is the need for an inland port North of Atlanta.
    Sitting in traffic during a commute is a pain,but the real harm in a failed Transportation model is allEconomics based,end of story.Any improvements as incremental as they may be are better than pie in the sky ideas that sound good in brain storming sessions .The T Splost will fail in Atl and it will be years before anything else comes down the pike and when it does the cost will be considerably larger and will be paid for by an increase in taxes.It will not be Public/Private it will be State Dollars,because the second a Public/Private deal is mentioned The Tea Party/Seirra Club/NAACP will be screaming how it’s an inside deal,corrupt yada yada sad but true.

    • Harry says:

      Quite a few public-private deals have not worked out very well, and given the level of endemic political corruption in our area, such proposals should be considered with a healthy dose of scepticism.

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      Then tell them to put on their big boy pants at the next GA Assembly buddy meeting and vote for an increase in the gas tax and a tax for all members of the Chamber of Commerc.
      How can they say no after all you just stated.
      The problem is you want to screw the least of us as usual, the poor and working class and elderly.

  16. seekingtounderstand says:

    I tell you what the ones that are pushing the most have the most to gain and the least cost due to the exemption going to businesses.
    Excempt me and I will vote yes.

  17. Carlyle says:

    Debbie calling Kaseem Reed an ultra liberal makes my point about the Tea Party.He is ultra liberal because he disagrees with her,yet The Sierra Club and NAACP are ok on the TP Conservative meter,you can’t make this stuff up.Lib/Conservative blah blah,Reed is doing a good job as Mayor and I predict by the end of his tenure will prove to have been one of the better Mayors in along time.

    Its nice to see the Executive of the Largest city of this State having a working relationship with the Governor.I think it bodes well going forward.

  18. Rambler1414 says:

    “Furthermore, the TSPLOST brazenly commits $600 million to bail out the existing MARTA system, a concept that the legislature intentionally tried to prohibit in passing the enabling act.”

    And failed to prohibit, clearly.

  19. angryberd says:

    What’s wrong with throwing mass transit into the mix? I just don’t think building more roads (wherever that’s possible), with even more bigger choke points is such a good idea. Some sort of mass transit option has to be in there. Those who hate MARTA must not use it very much to realize the value it brings. That particular transit authority used to be on my hated list until I moved to my present location 15 miles from the center of Atlanta. Since then, I have gladly suffered through multiple rate hikes for the benefits it has brought to me. I am willing to pay even more just to keep having that option.

    I used to dread my commute from the Brookhaven area down past the Capitol building. Having to deal with a 40-minute commute just to make it 15 miles to work just didn’t make any sense. A single accident anywhere on I-75/I-85 would increase that time by 1 hour. Even worse, the constant jockeying for position on the roadways, only to have to slam on the brakes, frazzled my nerves. I usually got to work angry. Something had to change.

    First, I tried using a bicycle. That was not a good idea. Sure, it was fun, but I also went to the hospital for respiratory problems multiple times within a year. Sitting in traffic with a hundred cars at a traffic light on Peachtree Street was like being in Lucifer’s kitchen (what I can imagine it would be like). The heat and smell from automobile exhaust made it really hard to breathe.

    Next, I tried using a motorcycle. That was great up until a dazed commuter in a 3000-lb projectile turned in front of me, sending me and my bike up in the air. A little trip to Grady Memorial made me rethink that option.

    It was only until I started searching for other alternatives (it was either that or go live in some other place) that I realized there was a MARTA bus stop less than half a mile from where I live. A bus that took just a few minutes to get to the nearest train station was being underutilized by me every day! That realization and the little walk up a steep hill has done wonders for my nerves and my health. Less wear and tear on my little car was even better. MARTA wasn’t as bad as I was led to believe. In the year that I made the switch, the bus has only been really late once. My trip to work has also been shortened by 10 minutes, on average. Plus, I have had many conversations with people from all over the world. Hell, a lady from India offered to be my real estate agent. Another guy, a professor at Georgia Tech, told me about a new program at Technology Square for startups. I look forward to those conversations every day.

    Young, educated people are the future of the state of Georgia. I love Atlanta, but I won’t stay if I believe the people in power are all living in the past. The world is way too complicated today to use the same old framework for making these kinds of decisions. What’ll happen if young people start leaving for greener pastures? How much growth does that take away? For that reason alone, money has to be found to fix the problem the right way. Hell, even if money isn’t found, release the shackles from MARTA so they can expand the system. I rarely ever go anywhere these days if it’s a hassle to get there by car. My usual M.O. is to drive to a MARTA station and continue from there. Lenox Mall wins; Gwinnett, Cobb and all the other counties that are a hassle to get to (even on a weekend) lose.

    • Harry says:

      You may be better off living in a more traditional high-density urban environment. The vast majority of the Atlanta area isn’t that, and never will be.

      • benevolus says:

        I think Atlanta is well on it’s way to being a high-density urban environment. The fact that we have almost zero structures of historical value makes it even more imminent.
        And I suspect that (ironically) if TSPLOST fails, it may accelerate that process because as it becomes increasingly more difficult to commute, more people will look for intown residences.

        • Harry says:

          Atlanta may or may not become more high-density, but the area surrounding Atlanta where 94% of people live, will not. I would even argue that within the city of Atlanta many areas are becoming lower density.

              • Charlie says:

                and many vacant lots from 2000 in midtown now have 20+ story condo and apartment buildings on them. And, despite the fact that is hasn’t received a lot of coverage, there’s new construction going on right now of several more towers.

                The places you mention have an average age of resident much older than that of what’s actually “the city” part of the city. the central city – downtown, midtown, buckhead and nearby – is becoming more dense. Those parts you mention without infrastructure have much more suburban characteristics without a high degree of quality of life. Those that offer high density are growing. Those that don’t aren’t.

                • Harry says:

                  What I said was, “within the city of Atlanta many areas are becoming lower density.” Not all areas, but it’s pretty much a wash. The population increase between 200 and 2010 was first thought to be substantial based on preliminary census figures, but the final numbers showed only a marginal increase. We certainly don’t need MARTA expansion in most parts of Atlanta and in south Dekalb. The people who live there are moving to the suburbs.

                    • Harry says:

                      I have no data post-2010 census, so you may be right, but it wouldn’t be smart to base major public policy financing decisions on unconfirmed short-term trends.

                  • Charlie says:

                    But the parts that are becoming lower density are the ones that have the least infrastructure. The density is increasing around the areas that have transit.

                    But I do appreciate you acknowledging that those folks moving out to the suburbs are going to need MARTA. Enjoy plan B!

                    • Harry says:

                      As I see it, people moving into the suburbs are just moving into already available housing, and not creating additional density. Ten years ago they may have been creating more density. There won’t be enough density in the suburbs to justify mass transit in our lifetimes.

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:


                      Your statements assume that population density in a given geographic area is uniform when it is not.

                      Take Gwinnett County, for example.

                      The latest census estimates (from July 1, 2011) is that Gwinnett has an overall population of 824,941 people which when broken down and divided into Gwinnett’s land area of 437 square miles equates to an average of 1,888 people per square mile.

                      But that figure of 1,888 people per square mile is just an average and not an actual figure as the population is not evenly distributed with 1,888 per sq mile throughout the entire county as there are some parts of the county that are much more densely developed and populated than others.

                      The US 78/Stone Mountain Highway, the US 29/CSX-old Seaboard Airline railroad, and the I-85/Buford Highway/Norfolk Southern-Amtrak railroad/Peachtree Industrial Boulevard corridors are the most densely developed and populated areas of the county while the northern and eastern parts of the county are still somewhat sparcely developed and populated.

                      Just as all population and development density is not uniform in a Gwinnett County or a City of Atlanta (where there are clearly some places that are hotter and more in demand than others like the increasingly densely-developed Peachtree Street/P’tree Road corridor is in relatively high demand while parts of Southwest Atlanta are losing population as you cited) the same thing applies for the entire Atlanta Region and even other more densely-populated urban regions in the Northeast as a whole.

                      Population density is not distributed evenly throughout every square mile of a city, county or region as figured in an average with the total population divided by the total land area of a given geographical division.

                      The actual population and development patterns are usually concentrated near major modes of transportation infrastructure (as demonstrated in Gwinnett with the densely-developed historic towns of Norcross, Duluth, Suwanee, Sugar Hill and Buford being located directly along the current Norfolk Southern-Amtrak/old Southern Railroad line and much industrial and commercial development being located along one of the busiest superhighways on the entire planet, I-85 or as demonstrated in Cobb County with the the densely-developed historic cities and towns of Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth being located directly on and along one of the busiest stretches of freight rail line on the planet in the CSX/old Western & Atlantic railroad line and much industrial and commercial development being located along another of the busiest superhighways on the entire planet in I-75).

                    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

                      Not-to-mention that the population of a given geographical area automatically becomes more dense on average when it gains in population such as Gwinnett, which only had an average population density of roughly 166 people per square mile back in 1970 when the county had a population of only 72,349 people, which means that with a population of 824,941 people and a population density of 1,888 people per mile, the population density is now more than 11 times as much as it was in 1970.

                      As the county continues to grow and add people and moves towards eventually being completely built-out (as happened to the Los Angeles Basin back around the year 2000) areas that are close to modes of transportation infrastructure will become even more dense as there will be no place to build new development but upwards or on brownfield or on existing plots of land in which existing residential structures will be torn down and replaced with new residential structures, an occurance that have we already begun to see in parts of the metro area.

                      Also even in major metro areas with a high average overall population density, there are areas that are more sparcely-populated where transit still works extremely effectively in the form of park-and-ride regional commuter bus and rail transit so aso avoid having to sit in often-gridlocked rush hour and daytime traffic on busy major roads.

                      Even here in the seemingly “not-dense-enough-for-transit-to-be-effective” Atlanta Region, there is a growing dependence on the increasingly-popular GRTA Xpress regional express commuter buses (which runs in conjunction with Cobb Community Transit regional express commuter buses in Cobb County and Gwinnett County Transit regional express commuter buses in Gwinnett) as GRTA Xpress has grown from only two buses when the service first started in 2004-05 to roughly 30 buses today (roughly 40 express buses total when combined with CCT and GCT express buses).

                      While the local bus routes tend to struggle at times with spotty ridership levels, the express commuter buses have been increasingly popular as daytime traffic has grown worse and worse on Interstate 75 Northwest in Cobb and Interstate 85 Northeast in Gwinnett through the year (there was just recently a big stink about the addition of a new express commuter bus line out to Dacula last year).

                      Despite the Atlanta Region’s seeming lack of overall average population density, there will still be a need for increased transit options and an expanded road network where physically and politically possible as the current road network was pretty much “designed” (not really) or only built to handle a regional population of not more than 3 million people but is being used by a regional population of close to 6 million, roughly twice the amount of people and drivers than it was built to handle, which does not even take into account the increasing amounts of freight truck and through automobile traffic that the severely-congested freeway system is struggling mightily to handle.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “How much growth does that take away? For that reason alone, money has to be found to fix the problem the right way.”

      The money to fix the problem the right way is not going to be found with politically-contentious and neverending tax increases that only provided limited sources of revenue.

      The money to fix the problem the right way is only going to be found with user fees, private financing (public-private partnerships) and Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenue from new development that pops up along transit lines) as there is absolutely no public appetite for additional tax increases in the Atlanta Region (something that one would think that the Republican-dominated Georgia Legislature would be more than well-aware of).

      But, of course, the issue of finding the correct method of funding critically-needed upgrades to our faltering transportation network may be null-and-void as the issue of anything even remotely related to transportation becomes politically radioactive for the foreseeable future to the Georgia Legislative in the politically toxic aftermath of what may be one of their worst and most misguided and miscalculated (get rich quick) legislative schemes yet.

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