5/13: Transportation referendum

By the AJC Editorial Board

There’s a still-foggy notion wafting around that a “Plan B” will somehow arise from somewhere if voters send the penny transportation sales tax down to defeat on July 31. That belief, in our view, is too freighted with risk to our economy and quality of life to warrant serious consideration as public debate continues over how best to begin detangling this region’s traffic mess.

Read the rest  of what the AJC Editorial Board has to say and commentaries by the director of the Georgia Chapter, Sierra Club and the campaign manager for Citizens for Transportation Mobility.

Then tell us what you think.

27 comments Add your comment

FMX

May 11th, 2012
8:03 pm

We need more rail instead of more roads. We need to expand MARTA!!!

Thomas

May 11th, 2012
9:21 pm

Dump the stupid touristy streetcars and I might look at it seriously. Those empty pay per mile “Lexus Lanes” are flops, it is time to rethink what really works for our local needs.

middleground

May 11th, 2012
10:51 pm

The more roads you build the more traffic you create. Incentivize changes in behavior instead of taxing us! Tax credits for living close to work, tax credits for riding the bus, tax credits for flex schedules, tax credits for telecommuniting, etc.
If we started this TSPLOST project list tommorrow, it will still be a long long time before the projects are finished. Think McGinnis Ferry, over 10 years of messed up road while construction continued.

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Can't afford it

May 12th, 2012
5:53 am

I am voting no on the transportation tax. It does not make sense to me. DOT projects are way too expensive. They need to look for ways to reduce construction costs.

ByteMe

May 12th, 2012
7:15 am

I want the legislature to take responsibility for the infrastructure of this state. If they’re unable or unwilling, then they need to create regional elected boards to do that for us with 100% accountability and responsibility… and the ability to manage 100% of the tax money raised in the region.

My vote remains “No”. A half a loaf with a threat of no loaf is more expensive than no loaf and just as unsatisfying.

Road Scholar

May 12th, 2012
8:23 am

“They need to look for ways to reduce construction costs.”

Do you not think, or know, that GDOT does that all the time? Any project , esp over $10M, is analyzed for cost effectiveness. They hire independent engineers to do Value Engineering studies.

If the tax does not pass, it is in the law to not have another transportation vote for 2 years. We have already lost too much time waiting for the lame legislature to do anything regarding transportation.

“…, then they need to create regional elected boards to do that for us with 100% accountability and responsibility… and the ability to manage 100% of the tax money raised in the region.”

Do you realize the list was put together by elected officials? The committee was made up of selected mayors, county commissioners, and state reps. GDOT and ARC (OUR REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION PLANNING GROUP MANDATED BY LAW) evaluated numerous projects based on cost, benefit, Air quality, congestion relief, and from that and answering the committee’s questions, the list of projects were pared to meet the possible revenue estimates. That is what is what is presented. The list addresses most high congestion locations, is balanced for roads and transit, and will reduce congestion based on today’s traffic.If we do not pass it who is willing to stay home and thus reduce congestion? Who is willing to increase the cost of moving freight…you know food, clothes, goods,…and thus the prices you pay for services?

FMX: I believe 55 % of the tax goes to transit.

Is this the way to go

May 12th, 2012
10:40 am

“LARP-Allocated Local Project Funding ($1.1 billion, 15 percent) – Fifteen percent is
allocated for projects to be determined by local jurisdictions. Although the projects
themselves need not be determined before the vote, the TIA does specify that the Local
Assistance Road Program (LARP) formula is to be used to allocate these funds. The LARP
formula is based primarily on the amount of roadway mileage within the jurisdiction,
resulting in an allocation that strongly favors the outermost counties at the expense of the
core jurisdictions, despite the fact that the bulk of the tax would be raised in the core
counties. While we will not know the exact breakdown of these funds by mode prior to the
vote, our expectation is that the bulk will be devoted to road projects.”

A billion dollars for “we don’t know yet”.

sircharles

May 12th, 2012
11:31 am

Making more money from all of Georgia’s drivers or anyone else is a reason why the toll road is not closed. It is paid for but officials want to continue to raise money on your using it! In other words, you are really being made to do something that you should not. GA-400 toll road is paid for and you should have use of it freely! Rail might be good, but it don’t bring people to Atlanta as it should because it has to be a place where you get on or and off. Plus, officials want you to continue to drive your car where you pay for parking, get booted, pay for tickets etc. I would just not use those things that has been paid for over and over again and not get something back! You all do the math and see if you can’t make some adjustments to keep your money rather keep giving it away!

Ward

May 12th, 2012
12:34 pm

This is a sucker tax that will never go away, just like the GA 400 tollbooths. Politicians see taxes as pork and pork is power. I have no faith that the money won’t be squandered and pocketed by the wrong people. Funny how politicians can find funding for that useless streetcar to the King Center, but can’t find the money for basic transportation needs. It’s a sucker tax, and they’ll be back asking for an additional ‘penny’ in 10 years.

Vince

May 12th, 2012
1:01 pm

Thomas, if you’re referring to the Atlanta streetcars, they have nothing to do with the TSPLOST. Light rail, on the other hand, does.

RailBuff

May 12th, 2012
4:01 pm

I am voting NO. The millions spent to put what would be an unused RR station by the site of Union and Terminal Stations, (which none of these young ones remember) and light rail, which is the new term for the old GA Power Interurbans (bike freaks, the Ponce line to Stone Mtn was part of it) and rail lines from Downtown out like spokes won’t work.
Why?
No one works at 5 Points anymore like they did, the AJC being one who abandoned downtown, and people live however badly in the suburbs and commute crossways and roundabout. Atlanta is not NYC or Chicago, and won’t be receptive to toll roads or another never ending tax that only funds ’studies’ or partial attempts.

Spend the monies the DOT has well. The new companies that have located in GA belie the claims we are suffering. Sprawl is here, and it is a fact of life. I like trains, and often ride the lone AMTRAK but realize we are not going back in time. As the Atlanta Journal said, you people on the Editorial Board, when they tore up the trolley tracks in the 40’s, it’s progress. Go reread your own articles from your Dunwoody cubicles.
Railbuff

Atlanta Alan

May 12th, 2012
6:08 pm

MARTA is a waste. Most people live outside of the city work outside of the city, shop outside the city,play outside the city!
The only thing MARTA is good for is getting people into and around the city.
As far as the so called beltway. Who cares?

Eric

May 12th, 2012
9:03 pm

I’m voting NO. I think the Sierra Club’s got it right. Read their article. We don’t need anymore sprawl (i.e., land development all across North Georgia). It’s time to end the pro-growth policies that got us into this mess to begin with!

Jeff on on Outside

May 12th, 2012
9:20 pm

Of course there is a plan B. Don’t be silly. The current project list was developed with many criteria. Improving transportation was one of the criteria and often not the major one. TSPLOST is not about helping gridlock. If we just say no, the politicians will come back with a plan that is more focused on the real problem and not on their pet solutions.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

May 12th, 2012
9:33 pm

Jeff on on Outside

May 12th, 2012
9:20 pm

I agree that the T-SPLOST is NOT about improving transportation, the T-SPLOST is about crooked politicians getting their slimy little grubby hands on a huge pot of money.

Most, if not virtually all, of the so-called transit projects on the list can’t be completed within the supposed time frame of the tax.

I agree with the need for many of the road projects, but disagree with using revenue from a sales tax increase to pay for them.

The state should have arranged to hold a vote on raising the gas tax if they wanted to fund road improvements.

Transit upgrades should be paid for with user fees (fares, parking surcharges, parking fines, traffic fines, sin taxes, etc) and public-private partnerships like the kind that was originally going to be used to fund the I-75/I-575 NW HOT lanes that is supposed to go out for bid, yet again, next month.

ByteMe

May 13th, 2012
10:04 am

Do you realize the list was put together by elected officials? The committee was made up of selected mayors, county commissioners, and state reps. GDOT and ARC (OUR REGIONAL TRANSPORTATION PLANNING GROUP MANDATED BY LAW) evaluated numerous projects based on cost, benefit,

You’re misunderstanding what I wrote. I want a directly elected regional transportation board responsible for continuous planning, raising and managing revenue, managing projects. I don’t want 10-year revenue stream, so that they can’t sell the long-term bonds necessary for projects that might take longer than 10 years (like extending transit to the outlying counties). I don’t want a group of elected officials who come together once and that list is set in stone for the next 10 years until they have to go get another tax to complete whatever wasn’t finished and start a new list. I want a long-term vision for infrastructure planning and taxing, something that’s supposed to happen at the state level. This is a band-aid with the threat of no-aid if it’s not passed. That’s not acceptable.

Zamorianiqua

May 13th, 2012
12:39 pm

“…if voters send the penny transportation sales tax down to defeat on July 31.”

Oh my, the very thought! As July 31 nears and the tea leaves indicate the TSPLOST vote could go south the promoters can always roll out that reliable old standby: “It’s for the children”.

Dave

May 13th, 2012
4:27 pm

So Editorial Board because of your fears that Plan B won’t happen you are willing to waste our money for ten years (or to use the Ga. 400 example, in perpetuity, if the powers that be can figure out a way to grab even more money for pet projects) on Plan A that doesn’t for the most part address regional transportation and is for the most part money towards a wish list of local projects? Not me. I’ll hope to save the pennies until they are used for a rational regional transportation plan. If that doesn’t happen, so be it.

Halftrack

May 13th, 2012
4:54 pm

Plan B should be to raise the gasoline tax. The Ga. tax is one of the lowest in the Nation now. Just 5 cents per gallon, less than an average of $2.00 per week for the average driver, would bring in $ 600 million dollars for Transportation. The Legislature is hard pressed to do what is right for the citizens of GA. A tax raise accreted to them is risky business because they get blamed and could lose their position. Roads, bridges, potholes and rural roads continue to deteriorate and travel & public safety has now become risky. Also mass transit would save a lot of gas and expense to the citizen in the long run.

Corey

May 13th, 2012
6:09 pm

Thomas

May 11th, 2012
9:21 pm

Dude, your comment is a prime example of how illinformed the general populus is in this region. THE ATLANTA STREETCAR PROJECT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TSPLOST. THE STREETCR PROJECTS IS ALREADY UNDER CONSTRUCTION. THE BELTLINE IS ALSO ALREADY UNDER CONSTRUCTION. SOME OF THE PARKS HAVE ALREADY OPENED. The city of Atlanta has never waited for the state to get anything started. The fifth runway- can you imagine if the city of Atlanta waited for the state? The new international terminal-can you imagine the city of Atlanta waiting for the state to take the lead?

ScottNAtlanta

May 13th, 2012
10:50 pm

I’m willing to bet that the Sierra Club representative the penned that editorial hasn’t lived in the area too long (if she has…she has been sheltered from reality). I have seen transit systems all over the country (and world)…but of all of them Atlanta is different…very different. Atlanta is the only city I have seen that associates mass transit with poverty. Thats why no one outside of the perimeter wants anything to do with MARTA. They see it as welfare (not unlike the ‘welfare queen’ label from the 90s) and want nothing to do with it. There is no regional pride in the system, and you have a state that is antagonistic at best. The sierra club needs to shut up and sit down on this one or they face being labeled as the lunatics

ga values

May 14th, 2012
7:12 am

Vote NO for waste & corruption. Look at the Corruption at the Airport & the Waste at Marta and you will know what a ripoff this new tax will be.

A Conservative Voice

May 14th, 2012
9:22 am

Folks, taxes never go away…….this so called 1%, 10 Year Tax is really a forever tax. Don’t be fooled by what all our sometimes less than honest politicians are telling us publicly. They only want this money to perpetuate their positions, somehow. Guaranteed, the majority of the tax collected would be used for administrative (Jobs Programs) expenses and would not go toward the actual infrastructure. Politicians LOOK OUT FOR THEMSELVES and “That’s a fact, Jack”. Don’t vote no……VOTE H*LL NO!!!!!!!!!

steviefig

May 14th, 2012
10:04 am

ScottNAtlanta, you are wrong. Staff in the GA Sierra Club office are either metro ATL natives or have lived in Georgia/Atlanta for more than a decade. Try again.

ScottNATL

May 14th, 2012
1:27 pm

@steve

Ok, then they are stupid…I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. They are undermining the best chance of getting ANY transit financing. Sometimes you have to compromise. Trust me, I would love for there to be 100% transit funding for this tax. I would LOVE to make people outside of Fulton and Dekalb pay us for the use of all the infrastructure that we have spent the last 40 years shouldering ourselves, but the simple truth is with the crooks we all so willingly re-elect at the state house…these things are not going to happen. This is NOT Seattle and facts never seem to matter to anyone these days. If you think that if this goes down that the state legislature is going to magically come up with a solution when they’ve basically punted for the last five years only to absolve themselves by making the voters (who are mostly ill informed) pass their own funding is fantasy. Unfortunately we cant rely on facts and the Sierra Club should know better. 11.43% of commuters use transit and pushing even 5% of that back onto roads would be catastrophic to traffic here…and if this fails and the 50/50 MARTA penalty persists, MARTA will once again face draconian cutbacks at a time when they should be massively increasing service. MARTA is one of the most efficiently run systems in the county…and the Sierra Club wants to kill it just to make a point. Unfortunately, that point is they are utterly detached from the reality that is Georgia

middleground

May 14th, 2012
3:02 pm

Ask yourself if you would trust the good old boys with billions of dollars? Do you really trust the folks that gave you toll roads to make good decisions on improving traffic? The folks who want economic development to make themselves rich off of real estate deals are hoping you are still trusting them to vote yes. They want you so desperate for relief that you will vote yes and then they can say “you don’t like what we have done, you voted for it”