Bus Rapid Transit Coming to Cobb?

April 23, 2014 10:16 am

by Jon Richards · 3 comments

Remember this? It’s TSPLOST project TIA-CO-035, a $695 million project to bring ‘enhanced premium transit service’ to Cobb County between Acworth and the Arts Center Station in Atlanta. It didn’t happen, of course, after voters in metro Atlanta soundly rejected the sales tax referendum two years ago.

Well, its back.

The Cobb County Commission is trying to figure out how to pay for a proposed bus rapid transit line between Kennesaw State University and midtown Atlanta, according to a story in this morning’s Marietta Daily Journal. Commissioners listened to a presentation by Ed Ellis of Kimley-Horn and Associates about the project, which, after some modifications, is now estimated to cost $494 million:

The largest part of the $494 million cost could be paid by the New Starts grant administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Transit Administration. Ellis estimated as much as 49 percent of the project — $242 million — could be paid for by that federal program.

Another $152 million, 31 percent, could come from other sources, Ellis said, such as additional federal grants, Cobb’s cities and universities, community improvement district funds, naming rights revenue, potential public-private partnerships and private organizations.

The remaining cost would be paid for by the county government.

“The current proposal is that Cobb County would contribute $100 million to the project, which is 20 percent,” Ellis said.

The commission is considering using funding from a new SPLOST to cover the $100 million. Cobb Commission Chair Tim Lee indicated the county could call for a six year SPLOST to be voted on this fall. The current SPLOST expires at the end of 2015. If the BOC approves the plan, which could happen as early as June, the proposed system could be up and running by late 2018 or early 2019.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

notsplost April 23, 2014 at 10:42 am

A lot of “ifs” and “maybes” have to happen for that optimistic prediction of late 2018 to be realized. Like Congress passing a highway trust fund bill that includes those Federal grants, and the SPLOST passing in a “throw the bums out” election year. Not to mention the Braves stadium costs sucking out all the oxygen from the room.

bkelly17 April 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm

This money would be better spent putting in a rail line to KSU. How can a rapid bus work if the traffic lanes are as clogged as they are on I-75? Even dedicated lanes will slow down when the “free” lanes are backed up. I’m sure Tim Lee and the commission will find a way to avoid a popular vote on this just like he did with the Braves stadium. We uneducated Cobb residents are just too stupid to understand it. :)

The Last Democrat in Georgia April 23, 2014 at 8:24 pm

They would spend the money on a rail line to KSU if they could, but a rail line to KSU costs infinitely much more than bus rapid transit (try BILLIONS for rail instead of millions for BRT) and Cobb County business and real estate interests have not the slightest idea of how to come up with the money for such a massive transportation infrastructure project at this time.

If Cobb County business interests were serious about proceeding forward with high-capacity transit along the US 41 Cobb Parkway corridor, they would package the proposed high-capacity transit line along with the proposal to build grade-separated intersections at the busiest junctions along the entirety of US 41 through Cobb and sell the entire project to private investors.

The private investors buying the project from the government (by way of a long-term lease from the public) would agree to pay all of the costs of designing, constructing, operating and maintaining the new transportation infrastructure in exchange for getting to keep all of the revenues from:

…Inflation-indexed distance-based cash-back electronic tolls on the newly grade-separated super-arterial US 41 roadway collected at grade-separated intersections…

…Inflation-indexed distance-based fares on the high-capacity transit line (distance-based fares of between $0.10-0.30 per-mile in 2014 dollars)…

…A self-taxing CID and/or Tax Allocation District implemented along the entirety of the US 41 corridor through Cobb County (as opposed to a countywide SPLOST)…

…All real estate assets directly related to the high-capacity transit line (land at and around transit stations along the line, as well as any additional property acquired by the private operating entity along the high-capacity transit route and any connecting routes for the construction of revenue-generating transit-oriented development).