3/25: Transportation referendum and jobs

By the AJC Editorial Board

Much of the hissing and spitting that passes for civic debate in this age orbits around cries of “job-killing” this or “job-creating” that. Which provides an interesting lens through which to view the upcoming regional transportation referendum.

We suggest that opponents of the Transportation Investment Act penny sales tax listen to a new advertising blitz with something close to an open mind.

Critics also owe it to themselves and their communities, in our view, to examine the sponsor list for the expected $8 million campaign of choir-preaching that points out yet again our epic mobility problems and the need to start addressing them.

Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board has to say. Then read another view by Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown and tell us what you think.

Businesspeople know competition grows jobs, so they recognize the risk of letting metro Atlantans stew in gridlock while competing regions gain ground.

25 comments Add your comment

bu2

March 26th, 2012
5:08 pm

AJC points to the businesses supporting the TSPLOST. This is the same group that tried to shut them up when they exposed the APS cheating scandal. The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement only means its good for their pockets and not necessarily for anyone else.

And this TSPLOST in not good for anyone but developers. If we pass this, we never have a chance to do it right and really make a difference. And what they don’t point out is that some significant $ are spent for operating costs for bus and rail systems. There is no funding for those systems beyond 20 years. These include buses in Gwinnet, Clayton and Dekalb County and the Clifton, Beltline and Cumberland Mall light rail proposals. MARTA can’t support what it already has. Clayton County dropped its bus system, but is now going to fund one with a temporary tax.

WeNeedAlternatives

March 26th, 2012
9:47 am

I agree the TSPLOST shouldn’t be social engineering. People should be able to live how they want, but within their means. Delivering effective transportation to sparsely populated communities is extremely expensive, and the residents of the low density communities should pay for that access, if they want it. If you have a local traffic problem – the local folks need to pay for it. If the traffic causing congestion is regional, it’s a regional issue and should be funded regionally. (Any traffic leaving a local jurisdiction is no longer local – it’s regional.)
Likewise, denser communities need more concentrated transportation alternatives, but that can serve more people. It can be fancier (like light rail). That’s not inexpensive either, but can be more cost effective as people begin to need their automobiles for fewer trips. Fewer trips lead to less congestion, less pollution and less wasted time. (And gives more room for that regional traffic to have access.) Those folks should pay for their local transportation too. There are also many projects that cover both local and regional needs. Local for people that live and work near transportation corridor, and regional for those that use that mode of transportation to get to their destination. Those projects can be very cost effective.

The ‘pet projects’ for one audience is necessary transportation to another – that’s likely why the whole list of projects covers a very diverse area. As population concentrates, there are more TSPLOST taxpayers per square mile, and the projects can be more expensive. After all, more people will be directly served. As the population spreads, there are fewer taxpayers per square mile, so there are fewer dollars to go for that square mile. Apparently, that’s why the list didn’t have heavy rail 60 miles outside of town. The 10 year completion requirement apparently limited the scope of what could be done too.

The roundtable that picked those projects did a pretty good job in spreading the funds in a manner that reflected the funding. Personally, I would have done a few things differently, as I prefer more transit, but overall, they seem to have done a fairly good job. (If most people are a bit upset, but for different reasons, it must be OK.)

As for the complaint regarding Cobb funding a transit line from Arts Center to Cumberland – there is an alternative: Just build the line from Woodstock (or wherever) to the river, and let the commuters swim/walk the rest of the way into town. It’s a folly to build a system that doesn’t go anywhere, or link to a popular destination. (See MARTA before the Airport station!) It is not very likely that people in Atlanta will be using it to come out and visit Cumberland, and much more likely that it will allow Cobb folks to get into town without enduring I75 and parking.
As traffic comes into the city, it concentrates. The Cumberland-Arts Center project might help reduce that. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough funding to build the entire line all the way out in one pass. It has to be built in pieces like the Interstate system was built. So you build the piece that will get the most use first, and then add on as funding is available. Doesn’t it make more sense to initially have commuters drive to a park/ride at Cumberland, and ride the rest of the way in?
Of course, the more intelligent way to do this is to link into MARTA just north of the Arts Center (as originally planned) and extend heavy rail up into Cobb via Cumberland, but Hell will be very cold before that occurs. Likewise, it is also a stretch constantly demand that the neighborhoods in North Atlanta endure more pass through traffic and the associated pollution.

What really is needed is true, effective regional transportation oversight that coordinates regional projects. This is what MARTA was originally conceived to do (way, way back…), but that didn’t happen. GRTA sorta happened, and lots of other agencies and layers have been proposed and created. The agency patchwork doesn’t work, and its high time for our politicians to get off their collective behinds and fix the problem. The world is beginning to pass this region by, and we no longer have the time to waste. The goose is dying, and there will be no more golden eggs until it is fixed.

Hillbilly D

March 25th, 2012
7:37 pm

mottlicher

And they always manage to hold another vote, in the middle of the summer, to insure a low turnout, to re-up the SPLOST, time and again. I’ve been watching these things for 40 years and I’ve yet to ever see one go away. Sometimes you don’t have to read through what you’ve lived through.

John

March 25th, 2012
5:43 pm

I’ll vote for this when the State fires the idiot who lobbied for the continuation of the 400 toll and the wonderfull lexus lanes. The idiot is Gena Evans.

mottlicher

March 25th, 2012
5:42 pm

May I suggest that Hillbilly read up a bit more on Ga. Splosts….splost taxes are for a definite time period and for specifically listed uses. At the end of the period it dies, unless a new splost is voted on and passed. This is different than the Ga. 400 tolls where the tax payers did not have a vote, a State authority (SRTA) made the decision to continue the tolls.