T-SPLOST fail: Two Views

Moving on from the transportation tax

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

The proposed transportation sales tax got steamrolled by voters Tuesday, with 63 percent voting against the plan to raise billions for a controversial list of projects aimed at unsnarling traffic and improving transit in a 10-county region. So what’s next? We asked two leaders on each side of the T-SPLOST issue to suggest what needs to be done to find regional consensus.

Commenting is open below Steve Brown’s column.

By Bucky Johnson

Over the past 15 months, I have had the opportunity to travel around the region to speak about the Transportation Investment Act of 2010. There was overwhelming agreement that metro Atlanta has a transportation problem. This was the first time in the history of metro Atlanta that a regional vote for transportation improvements has been attempted. It was a valiant effort.

On Tuesday, however, voters in our 10-county region did not agree to fund the 157 specific projects proposed in the 1-cent sales tax referendum. Whenever there’s a setback, it takes some time to review, renew and refocus based on the lessons learned.

There is going to be a cost for this missed opportunity — one that can’t be assessed in days or months.

While voters have spoken and elected leaders have heard you, there are still transportation challenges to deal with. Like most major metropolitan areas nationwide, neither our region nor our state has adequate financial resources to fully address these challenges. In fact, we are facing a shortfall of tens of billions of dollars in the next few decades for transportation projects needed to expand and maintain roads and bridges and to provide transit options to accommodate the future demands of 3 million more residents expected here by 2040. It is unrealistic to expect more money from the federal government. In fact, there likely will be significant reductions in federal funds to states by 2014.

The governor and General Assembly gave us this opportunity through the passage of the Transportation Investment Act. I would encourage them to continue to work with local leaders and residents to explore new options.

Organizations such as the Atlanta Regional Commission and its planning staff, in partnership with local transportation professionals, did yeomen’s work to assist the roundtable in project selection and analysis. Over the past two years, the ARC, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, MARTA, local elected officials, the business community, universities and countless civic organizations have worked together with unprecedented cooperation. That bodes well for our region.

This experience has united us to fight another day for options and solutions to our transportation challenges. I implore all those who participated in the process to harness the positive energy and regional thinking gained from this massive endeavor.

I salute my colleagues on the roundtable who took a bold step in selecting the project list unanimously. Metro Atlanta must keep moving forward to address our transportation issues. The needs are obvious — on that we can all agree.

Bucky Johnson is Norcross mayor and was chairman of the T-SPLOST regional transportation roundtable.

By Steve Brown

Easing metro Atlanta traffic congestion will require a systemic transformation of the bureaucratic process we now endure.

Mayor Kasim Reed was not elected to the governing roundtable’s executive committee, but he was forced onto it by the Metro Atlanta Chamber and House Speaker David Ralston. In my opinion, Reed’s inclusion paved the way for most of the controversial project selections, which produced the rise of vast opposition.

Inconsistency abounded as the Atlanta Regional Roundtable Survey on May 25 revealed the preordained viewpoint that “traffic congestion” was the top response to the survey question: “Which of the following is the most important reason for investing in transportation improvements?” (Note: Neither “economic stimulus” nor “jobs” appeared in the top responses.)

The Atlanta Regional Commission’s continual use of disingenuous surveying meant that behind-the-scenes political influencers could obtain answers they desired on the costly expansion of transit.

Once people began to analyze the final project list, which was possible only after it had been approved, it was immediately apparent that traffic congestion relief had not been achieved relative to the scale of funding. Similarly, the list reflected a purposeful agenda to fund modes of transportation least likely to provide congestion relief and more likely to promote high-density development in the suburbs under the context of new urbanism principles, prompting people in the apartment building and real estate development industries to salivate.

The state’s transportation planning director and GDOT followed orders and turned a blind eye toward the mostly special interest list of projects. However, the inability to achieve the main goal — congestion relief — triggered a new marketing campaign around economic development.

Obviously, the mixed messages were confusing and showed a real lack of sincerity.

So what have we learned? First, the ARC needs to abandon predetermined, agenda-driven public outreach. It’s misleading and it impairs the region.

Second, the enormous bureaucracy known as the Georgia Department of Transportation needs to be overhauled, including measures taken to limit political influence from the entities getting rich from government decision-making.

The chairman of the Council for Quality Growth, a development industry advocacy group, said this about the T-SPLOST: “If we’re going to bring real estate out of this depression, we’ve got to give it some help.” The behind-the-scenes influencers hijacked T-SPLOST as an economic stimulus for their purposes, and the ARC and GDOT participated in the exercise. On a similar note, there was a glaring lack of disclosure on who was behind the funding for the public messaging.

Third, don’t practice substandard planning. You don’t plan in this order: 1. approve the list of projects; 2. conduct a study on the list and; 3. approve a regional governance structure over the list.

The methodology employed by the ARC for modeling, planning and outreach is biased and remarkably unreliable.

Fourth, allow flexibility and celebrate home rule instead of crushing it. Don’t create a regional transit system through force.

Fifth, we need a cost-benefit analysis on every new project. Likewise, ignorance on how to pay huge future operations and maintenance costs is absolutely unacceptable.

Steve Brown is a Fayette County commissioner.

66 comments Add your comment

Earl Scott

August 1st, 2012
5:19 pm

The fact is the voters of Georgia do not trust the political class to follow through with any of their promises. Ga-400 is a classic example. The tolls were supposed to end in 2005 and yet they continue today. The money was only supposed to pay for the project but has been used for other purposes. We recognize that traffic congestion is a problem in the metro-Atlanta area but we do not trust the politicians and transportation agencies to do what they say they will do with the money.

And when you factor in the inordinate influence of the city of Atlanta, Fulton county and MARTA into the mix you have reason to be even more skeptical. The fact is that the majority of horrible traffic congestion problems happen when accidents occur. Spending $9B will not solve those problems, especially when you look at the project list.

Mary Johnson

August 1st, 2012
5:20 pm

I do not understand why roads are not funded through taxes placed on gasoline. That way, folks who use the roads pay for the roads. The 1% tax has several disadvantages, including at a minimum appearing to be an undo load on the less wealthy citizens of the metro area. Plus, many counties in the Atlanta Metro area already have additional taxes to pay for MARTA. And my last comment – why should I TRUST anyone in government in the Atlanta and State arenas? I live in Forsyth County and while I voted for the tax to pay for 400, it was supposed to go away. Gov. Deal may SAY it will be phased out next year, but his credability with me is zero. Until the politicians in the city and state governments act trustworthy, we will not trust them.

Vast Right Wing Conspiracy

August 1st, 2012
5:23 pm

Let me help y’all out on this. You have a massive, mainly underground, white elephant, which was designed to hopefully cover 35% of its operating costs. Only a communist would think this a good business idea. Turn it into housing or a bomb shelter, or something, but I quit riding it when it got north of $1.50 a ride.

As for the bus line, check the union wages, pensions, healthcare, etc. Untenable.

If you go “all in” on roadwork, the environmentalists will have a conniption fit, and Atlanta will be “uncool”, “unhip”.

You will either have to cram taxes down our throats, because it will not pass a vote, or take some strong medicine elsewhere. I doubt the political class has the stomach for that – too many incumbents voted out.

I am not sure I have been much help. Good luck.

too little time

August 1st, 2012
5:25 pm

The people were NOT fooled. The original list had some great projects. It also had some questionable projects.

My advice: take the list. Evaluate every project using three criteria:

1) Would he project relieve traffic congestion TODAY if it were in place? (beltline and air traffic towers would NOT pass this test)

2) Is the project cost effective compared to other projects on the list towards relieving traffic congestion? (transit from cumberland mall would NOT pass this test).

3) Does the project require a huge operational cost not reflected in the estimates? All projects will require maintenance. All projects have some operational costs. But operating a train has HUGE operational costs compared to filling pot holes in a road. The two are not comparable. If a project has huge operational costs, those need to be addressed up front rather than glossed over.

Evaluate the project list against these three criteria, and bring it back for another vote in two years.

Outer Perimeter

August 1st, 2012
5:41 pm

Governor Deal should start by consolidating all the state transportation agencies into one entity. GDOT, SRTA etc. (Much like the private sector would do to start reducing costs.)


August 1st, 2012
5:43 pm

Only Dekalb and Fulton pay taxes to support MARTA not “many” counties as was stated earlier. Every world-class city in the world has a vibrant transit system. Keep the subtle racist attitudes in not wanting to fund mass transit and watch more and more jobs and industry go to forward thinking cities like Dallas and Charlotte.
Also, you tea partiers out in Cobb, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Henry, etc. you are the dummies that are hurt the worse by traffic. All of the little people you are so afraid of don’t have a heck of a long way to drive and we can still ride the train and buses.
Lastly, this nonsense about “not trusting the government” is just a dumb cliche. The majority of the dummies that are spouting this talk let the government take money out of their checks every other week. Also, didn’t some of these same people vote to create more cities and more government over the last several years. Case in point, the city of Brookhaven. So much for not trusting government.

mike b

August 1st, 2012
5:58 pm

my reasons for opposing this were simple: 1) calling it a one cent tax was fraud. it’s a 1% tax. using a marketing trick on voters angered me. 2) politicians: if you want to raise money for these improvements have the courage to do your job. raise taxes. you signed up for the job, do it. don’t pass the burden to the voters. politicians are too afraid to say “tax increase” because they’ll have it used against them in re-election. your job is NOT to get re-elected. it’s to serve the public. have some courage and do it.


August 1st, 2012
6:05 pm

Bucky Johnson is tone deaf. I see no real admission of errors, or worse yet, faults with the process by which the 157 got selected and agreed upon. It was all done by “horse trading” tactics, per insiders. The People deserve and demand better than this. How could “round table” possibly think an airport control tower, streetcars, or building a new freeway along the “Northern Arc” corridor, which was resoundingly rejected decades ago, was ever going to be accepted?

John Lightner

August 1st, 2012
6:27 pm

I supported the establishment of Marta when I lived in Dekalb County. Back then we were told the 1
cent Marta sales tax would be more than sufficient to pay for its operations and capital needs in the future. We were. also told hat ridership would be much higher than it has turned out to be.

So as a Gwinnett County resident Now I was shocked to find Marta projects with over $3.2 billion allocated to them in the T-PLOST list of projects. A leader in the proponents group stated that no funds were included T-SPLOST for the maintenance of Marta beyond the 10 year life of the sales tax. He said “We haven’t addressed that issue as yet”. First and foremost, Marta is not the financial responsibility of the citizens of the citizens living in the other 8 counties in the region.

Then there is the real estate development orientated Atlanta Beltline supposedly budgeted @ $600
million dollars. This project is nothing more than a boondoogle to bail out Atlanta’s depressed real estate industry and a tourist attraction similar to the Marietta street car project.

Lastly, the T-PLOST project budget included about $140 million to replace 3 bridges over Atlanta’s
downtown railroad gulch. I have lived in the Atlanta area since late 1959. I know that Atlanta’ various
leaders have known since the mid-1960’s that these bridges needed either major renovation or replacement. So I look on this attempt to alleviate Atlanta’s financial responsibility for these bridges by
having the the 10 county region pay for them with considerable contempt.

Obviously, I voted NO.


August 1st, 2012
6:33 pm

and the death of Atlanta continues to progress…Atlanta will find itself looking up to Charlotte,Dallas,and beautiful Seattle..as Atlanta continue to decline and become a non factor..


August 1st, 2012
7:01 pm

These guys are missing the entire point. We don’t trust the officials in charge with any more money. That’s it. That’s all. I second everything John Lightner said above, and I could list several other projects, transportation related or otherwise, where Atlanta’s leaders, county leaders, and state leaders have made promises they never fulfilled. However, they always took the money. Where did it go, their pockets? Because it didn’t go to our projects as promised. Why would anyone give them more? We’re still paying a toll on 400, MARTA never meets its budget no matter how much cash is poured into it, taxpayers are losing highway lanes they’ve already paid for with taxes, so that “leaders” can suck yet more money from constituents with that fraudulent PeachPass garbage, the sewage system in Atlanta is still a disaster after a decade of money pouring into it, the state says it’s using money to create jobs and then the money “disappears”, with minimal jobs to show for it. The list goes on and on. These guys can theorize all day long, but the bottom line is that no one will back any plan they offer unless we start seeing some accountability and plans that make real sense.


August 1st, 2012
7:10 pm

Mr.Johnson’s remarks are typical Republican remarks when faced with the Truth. Put lipstick on the PIG and call it PRETTY! His comments long on platitudinous praise but short on wise thinking and analysis.

As for Mr.Brown’s views, they are rightfully critical in assessment and his revealing of the inner workings of this very dysfunctional group of political leaders. Unfortunately, Mayor Reed is the face of this predictable failure. It was his choice to do so willingly and agree to be that face. He will be remembered for it, in Georgia’s history, always. Mayor Reed actively reached and gleefully wallowed in its glory to sell the citizenry a flawed product. He was willingly to be used by these behind the scenes operative to deliver on something they ALL were well aware would be a heavy lift throughout the communities. Instead of providing the much need Leadership that was being called for, he chose the easier way of Marketing and packaging.

As for the Corporate and involved supporting business entities and Business Chambers, who have so far remained tight lipped and with deafening silence. The Citizens surely would like to see their same commitment and remain as a working and active partner going forward with these Leaders to provide a more workable plan. Their input and critical management teams and expertise would go a much longer way in assisting in and assuring a more successful outcome next time.

The People responded in kind that a REAL transportation plan is needed not a developers dream plan. One issue that has not be widely raised but implied here and
throughout other mediums. The issue of financial accountability, malfeasance,corruption, nepotism, cronyism, contracting, fraud and abuse.

This appears to be one of the most vocal complaints in the area of trust with these officials. I would seriously suggest going forward prior to any drafting of any final plans for consideration. The chosen officials should include specific language targeting enhanced penalties, fines and enhanced prosecution of charged violators.
By doing so this would provide extra reassurance to the voters that this is a real concern and will not be tolerated. Finally, specific language should include hiring requirements from the local areas where the projects are to be performed.

Finally, We all must first come to terms with our social and racial dysfunction and try to reach a middle ground where one community is not favored over the other. I am in no way saying that we need to solve them, before this can happen, for we are not mature enough as a community to perform such a feat. However, we must find a way
to provide a way for every community involved to realistically claim a reasonable level of success. In do so, not a success defined by the other but together.

We are successful, when we ALL succeed.

These are just a few of many things that should be included going forward in my humble opinion.

Not Blind

August 1st, 2012
7:14 pm

I wonder when the political class will figure out that the sleeping giant has been awakened ??

Not Blind

August 1st, 2012
7:18 pm

@ Bernie, You start out with a typical attack on your worst enemy [ R's ] but then call for people to overcome their differences. Dude, go look in the mirror and see the problem.

Good grief

August 1st, 2012
8:22 pm

I see a lot of people still fighting a battle that was pretty decisively settled yesterday. I don’t trust government. The Belt Line is a boondoggle. MARTA is a money pit. Yeah, we get it. We heard you the first bazillion times. So, what’s your solution? It’s easy to b**** about what you don’t like, but a lot more difficult to actually add anything substantive to the discussion.

For a city of our size to thrive, transit is not optional. So how do we reinvent MARTA and make it more efficient and something we can all be proud of?

Why have some come to believe traffic congestion relief and economic development are mutually exclusive? Frankly, I want transportation projects to achieve both.

If the City of Atlanta believes that the best way to spend $600M of the money it generates (much greater than that amount, BTW) to meet the growth, mobility and quality of life desires which have been very clearly articulated by its citizens, what gives you the right to proclaim it a boondoggle? I don’t recall ever hearing any Atlanta residents fussing about the list including golf cart paths in Fayette County or that new road clearly being built to enable development in Henry County.

Why do we lack a sense of regional identity? No metro area can thrive without a strong central city. And the central city needs suburbs that work in order not to be choked to death. So why do we pretend that the problems of our neighbors are not also our problems?

These are all legitimate questions that must be tackled if Atlanta and its suburbs are going to compete well in a global 21st century economy. And do you see anybody offering thoughtful insight on any of them on any of these comment threads? I would, but I’m afraid I’ve already wasted enough time in a place where it feels like I’m surrounded by monkeys flinging poo at each other.


August 1st, 2012
8:22 pm

Not Blind @ 7:18 pm – Just calling them as they are. Sometimes Truth is stranger than Fiction.

Don't Tread

August 1st, 2012
8:31 pm

“The majority of the dummies that are spouting this talk let the government take money out of their checks every other week.” Payroll taxes aren’t voluntary and never have been in my lifetime.

BTW, if you’re looking for dummies and racists, you might want to check in the bathroom. There’s a magic device in there that will allow you to see them.

The Tea Party got it right: “You have to earn our trust before asking for more money”

Not Blind

August 1st, 2012
8:46 pm

@ Bernie, of course it’s not you that is the problem, it’s them stupid conservatives. What any lib means when they say that people need to overcome their differences is that the conservatives need to become liberal. Heaven forbid a liberal change their spots.


August 1st, 2012
8:58 pm

Steve Brown has been called out more than once for cherry picking at best bold face lying at worst. Unfortunately, people dont take the time to check if these people are telling the truth…INCLUDING THE AJC whose responsibility to the community is often shirked in order to sell papers. All I have to say is that I hope the NAACP and Sierra Club are happy…You could have had some of what you wanted…now you will have none…and none for a very long time. To say this was predictable is an understatement. How could the leaders of these organizations have been so stupid? When you are the minority group…you dont make demands in all or nothing terms…cause you get nothing…as you will now witness first hand


August 1st, 2012
9:06 pm

Not Blind @ 8:46 pm – I have been just as critical of Mayor Reed as any republican or Tea Party member. You remind of the saying ” You cant Fix STupid!” so I have chosen not respond to your comments any further.


August 1st, 2012
9:14 pm

$600 million for the beltline project, need we say more. Sure it would be nifty, but it is a developers wet dream; not traffic or congestion related. Give them tax abatements to develop, but let those who will benefit pay the bill on that boondoggle

Also, not really sure how an air traffc control tower was going to help any congestion on the road

rik warren

August 1st, 2012
9:24 pm

Please allow Atlantan s the ability to vote on a congestion tax. Please levy excess Marta charges on those with id from outside the Marta funded counties. You don’t want to come here, good we agree. If you do you must pay. This has nothing to do with yesterdays vote. No more free rides. Toll lanes for others or they must use the outer perimeter they so desire. Raise money and pay for it. Your own private (its ok with me) road to nowhere. This will relieve our congestion, increase our quality of life, and rid us of the sub and exurban patriots who hate us.. We will thrive as a result.

rik warren

August 1st, 2012
9:31 pm

As a person who lives on the beltline, I vote for more of it. It is great and turned a blighted throughway into a highly desirable amenity. Even my Republican friends bring their children to utilize the parks and water features. My quality of life and property values are higher as a result. It has created demand for properties which would have lain fallow for years. Again if you don’t want to come to Atlanta, I suggest you follow your better instincts.


August 1st, 2012
9:37 pm

You voted for more beltline because it benefited you, did not care where the money comes from. If you want it, tax yourself or make a donation, don’t hold a gun to my head so you can have an increase in property value

here is the reality of why it failed

August 1st, 2012
10:02 pm

1. It was painfully and shamefully obvious that the backers were in it solely for the benefit this tax/stimulus/nothing to do with congestion deal would profit them.
2. The project list was filled with worthless projects, and when a few changes were made, to try to placate intelligent voters, it was written in such a way that the project list could revert back to the worthless projects after the election…
so as a result, it lost, and I must add, that this shameful conglomeration of greed and misguided attempt ever made it to a ballot shows how very much is wrong with the entire process


August 1st, 2012
10:13 pm

A good idea will pay for itself.


August 1st, 2012
10:46 pm

Brown nails it.

JR in Mableton

August 1st, 2012
10:56 pm

Thanks for your leadership, Bucky!!!


August 1st, 2012
11:57 pm

Did anyone notice this? T-SPLOST = The Sorry Politicians LOST
Maybe find a new name the next time this is tried in about ten years, hun? And for the next time don’t act like people are stupid! These jobs drag on for years and there is no reason whatsoever for that to be the case. Difine the work to be done and let the people KNOW when the job will be done. Quit drawing money from the kitty for two to three times or longer than the job should take; put deadlines for jobs completion or forget it! These ideas are just for starters but putting all the jobs in three counties and expecting everyone to pay for them doesn’t cut it. If the City of Atlanta wants their own little street car or train (beltline) that will NOT help general traffic flow at all; PAY FOR IT YOURSELF! Getting an idea why this bogus scam failed?


August 2nd, 2012
12:07 am

While I understand Dooley’s motivation I am still a little confused as to exactly what Vinnie Fort and the NAACP want. If I read them correctly they want more transit and lower taxes. So, in what fantasy world is that possible?


August 2nd, 2012
6:01 am

T-SPLOST failed because if was too big and too complicated. No one believed that 157 different projects could be managed by a group of politicians whose talents lie in getting elected. No one believed the extra 1% sales tax would be placed in a repository and used only for the named projects.


August 2nd, 2012
8:23 am

So everyone living in out lying areas who voted against, stay out there and don’t come inside 285 and clog up out streets and road. You might catch cooties from all of us Libruls anyway.

too little time

August 2nd, 2012
8:30 am

If the City of Atlanta believes that the best way to spend $600M of the money it generates (much greater than that amount, BTW) to meet the growth, mobility and quality of life desires which have been very clearly articulated by its citizens, what gives you the right to proclaim it a boondoggle?

The fact that they are going to tax ME for the boondoggle gives me the right, and the ballot box is where I proclaim it.


August 2nd, 2012
8:32 am

It failed because face lifting interchanges will NOT address the true nature of the problem: that is, totally inadequate mass transit. MARTA needs to be extended along the east and west corridors of I-20, north and south corridors of I-75 and I-85 and with a perimeter route around the city. We need something that will take drivers off the road. But drivers will need to believe the system is safe, efficient and effective for their commutes, not to mention, gets them to their actual destinations, without a thousand rail or bus transfers. Widening roads and re configuring interchanges is busy work that will fail in solving, or even improving, the vehicular nightmare Atlanta is well known for.


August 2nd, 2012
8:32 am

Why is it that all the suburban “no” voters can’t offer a solution? Here is one: Erect a giant toll booth system just outside of 285. Every suburbanite who wants to come into town to work, use our airport, restaurants, see a game, or attend a concert pays $25 to get into town. Or stay at home and enjoy Outback, the Olive Garden, and Whitewater.

too little time

August 2nd, 2012
8:35 am

So everyone living in out lying areas who voted against, stay out there and don’t come inside 285 and clog up out streets and road. You might catch cooties from all of us Libruls anyway.

Wrong. Everyone… just about everywhere… voted against, except for a few precincts in Atlanta.

Don Abernethy

August 2nd, 2012
8:48 am

I may not be a typical voter but besides my distrust for politicians I have grown over the years to dissociate myself from down town Atlanta. The make up of the people in down town Atlanta do not share the same views I have and crime and traffic and other things have made me content to stay away. This tax seemed to me to be directed mostly to downtown Atlanta.I would like to move completely out of metro Atlanta . The diversity is too much for me. But can’t sell my house so I will have to make the best I can of where I live.

Rock Gaines

August 2nd, 2012
9:02 am

OK, the voters have spoken. Now what? It’s like a marital problem. Husband and wife can argue, yell and scream, and point fingers at each other. After all that is over, the question is: How do we solve this problem?

157 projects was a huge number for people to wrap their brains around. Perhaps a better idea would be to pare the project list down to the ones that will have the biggest effect on traffic congestion.
Also, I would certainly look into the areas with large populations (Gwinnett, South DeKalb County, for example) and provide transit for them to get into the city.

I really hope that just because the vote failed, the sense of urgency does not subside. Maybe a good idea would be for City of Atlanta, DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett and Cobb counties to get together and come up with a project list that works to move their people.

Just throwing it out there.


August 2nd, 2012
9:10 am

Reasonable people understand the need for something to be done about traffic in the Atlanta region. While some have made this about the same old liberal vs conservative, it’s not. Some have made it all about race, and while there are elements of that for some, there’s more at work here.

I opposed T-SPLOST, because something of this magnitude should be decided based on expertise, not political gamesmanship. Clearly, we don’t have this expertise at GDOT (traffic lights on ramps and a big yellow bridge with only access on but not off being late examples). Outside consultants would have been fine, but some kind of strategic approach with projected outcomes would have helped convince people.

Final note. For those in the suburbs who seem to have obsessive hostility toward the city, get over it and the underlying bias. Don’t tell people you’re “from Atlanta,” especially when you know nothing about the city. Don’t travel to other cities and say “we don’t have that at home,” when you neither know nor contribute much to the city.


August 2nd, 2012
9:16 am

Boy, I wish we had a commissioner in DeKalb like Steve Brown. All we have are a-holes. Great analysis.

Unfortunately the premise of both of these analyses are wrong. Government is the least capable of solving our transportation problems as they are the folks who created the problems in the first place. They do not function on any sort of cost-benefit basis as they steal all the money they get for their operations. Clearly there are numerous private entities that have a vested interest in addressing transit issues in the area. They should come together, put together a plan based on sound financial assessments (rather than political pressures, bribery, favoritism, etc.) and put forth their own bond initiative that will attract venture capital and other investors. If a plan is not self-sustaining, it should not be done. That is why there is so much objection to the transit/train plans in this proposal. We all know that rail is unsustainable in this town and that roads, road improments and the like are the right way to go.


August 2nd, 2012
9:42 am

2 victories this week……..

Tea Party claims victory for defeat of TSPLOST

Sweet Tea Party claims victory for success of Chik Fil A


August 2nd, 2012
9:51 am

In my opinion, we need to pass a special TSPLOST to relieve traffic congestion around Chic Fil A restaurants.


August 2nd, 2012
9:58 am

It’s unbelievable how ignorant all of you “no” voters are. The process to develop the project list for the TSPLOST began over a year and a half ago. EVERY single project on the list came from planning studies that have been done over the last 20 years. Cost-benefit analyses and every other possible analysis you can imagine had been done for each project previously. They weren’t selected out of thin air or pulled out of politician’s or developer’s pockets. There was more research done on that project list than, I’m certain, any of you have ever done in your life.

So shut up already. Oh, and enjoy the increased governmental control you all just voted yourselves into. Can’t wait to see all those new tolls implemented in the coming years.


August 2nd, 2012
10:41 am

Give us a visionary plan for transportation in 2020. Not a ‘continue the 1990 transportation plan on into 2020′ plan.


August 2nd, 2012
10:52 am

Lauren- 63% voted no because
they are sick and tired of the getting ripped
off by government- local, state and certainly
federal… Trust is earned and these clowns
under the dome are clueless just like up in


August 2nd, 2012
11:14 am

Yes there are some teary eyes in Atlanta as those pushing the TSPLOST crashed and burned by the voters missles. Yes, we voters know you lost out on millions! Possibly billions! Thank God for the Tea Party and their courageous efforts keeping government small and responsible.


August 2nd, 2012
11:20 am


The no voters are not ignorant, but, realize that this boondoggle of mass transit expansion DID NOTHING TO REDUCE CONGESTION! You can rant and rave all you want about the need for mass transit, marta. But, the facts are the facts. An expansion of marta will do nothing to relieve traffic congestion, Why? It is not efficient, not safe, not convenient for 99% of the population, always will have to be subsidized because they will not change the fares to reflect the cost of operations. All the feel good proposed mass transit expansion in this failed boondoggle never took the fact that those operations would have to be drastically subsidized in the future to pay for operational expense.! The only way to relieve congestion is to route traffic without an inside the current perimeter away from it not into it! The outer loop as proposed in the 80’s and early 90’s, would have done wonders in relieving congestion, That route today, with additional direct route between the major roads, with VERY LIMITED INTERCHANGES, will achieve that goal. Seems like Paulding put forth such a project from 75N to 75S bypassing the perimeter. This type project is the only answer!


August 2nd, 2012
11:49 am

Hey Atlanta your on your own with your stupid Beltway


August 2nd, 2012
11:55 am

Funny how the guy at work who brought me a biscuit from Chic-fil-A just dropped several grand last week at Disney.


August 2nd, 2012
12:15 pm

I think what the voters are looking for is a bold plan to alleviate traffic congestion by diverting traffic, not a collection of road widening projects that most think will be funded sooner or later by gasoline taxes or the federal government.

Perhaps it is time to reconsider the northern ARC connecting 75, Ga 400, and 85. There are many drivers that will gladly pay a toll to avoid 285.


August 2nd, 2012
12:51 pm

We killed TSPLOST , chick-fil-a had a banner day, and I get to send mail to my parents in the new city of Brookhaven, to boot. I hope I have this much fun in November! Bye bye, barry…

No Sympathy

August 2nd, 2012
1:38 pm

Prior to the vote, I reviewed the list of projects proposed by T-SPLOST. I didn’t agree with many of them especially the ones related to transit (no cohesive plan) but for the majority, they looked pretty good. It wasn’t nirvana but it was better than doing nothing. It was a solid initial step towards helping to alleviate traffic congestion in Atlanta. I voted yes so needless to say I was disappointed when it didn’t pass. Mistrust of government is NEVER going to go away. So if opponents are waiting for that to happen then we won’t ever build or improve another road.

This ‘no’ vote was clearly cutting off the nose despite the face i.e., I rather have debilitating traffic congestion than give a “dysfunctional”, “distrustful” government any money to repair, improve and expand roads and transit. I’m a Democrat but I’m a firm advocate of what Gov. Deal said yesterday: don’t bring this back for a vote period. The electorate has spoken so give them what they want: nothing. Let Atlanta drivers, especially the ones that voted no, sit and bear with traffic. And when you’re complaining on a Friday afternoon because you’re stuck in traffic on 75 South and late for your son’s little league game, you can look in the rear view mirror and blame yourself for being in that position by voting no.


August 2nd, 2012
2:17 pm

Love the term Forward. Maybe not coined by MSNBC, but certainly being used heavely in their campaign for 2012. Lean Forward, Think Forward. When I read trhe comments attacking those of us who voted no they say we are killing the city by not thniking forward. Well as a conservative, I look back. I try to learn from past mistakes. I try to remember what the politicians promised yesterday before listening to todays promise about tomorrow. The policians of this city fail on a daily basis to keep their promises. They are very focused on a very small group of people they call constituents. I do not reward poor behavior with blind support. There are also those of us who believe doing nothing is better than doing wrong. Send them back to their chambers. Let them thing about what will really help and how to really pay for it. If you have to pay people to sell it to me with clever advertising, you have already failed.

Retired Old Atlantan

August 2nd, 2012
3:55 pm

No one is making you sit in congested traffic. If you don’t like it, move closer to your job or get another job. Not necessarily something you can do overnight, but if you decide you really want to, you can (unless, of course, your job skills are pretty marginal).

As for Atlanta’s attracting new businesses and creating jobs, why any business would be attracted to Atlanta with its poor school systems and poorly educated workforce is beyond me. And if I were bringing a substantial new business to Atlanta, I sure wouldn’t want to put it inside the city limits of Atlanta with all of its problems, including traffic congestion, when I could put it out in the suburbs with fewer problems and likely less expense.


August 2nd, 2012
9:41 pm

Well, I did an aerial-view of our city interstates. I used that to compare with all of the projects this TSPLOST was suppose to do. What made me vote NO was nothing concrete and the Govenor said Funding for the next 10 -20 years of taxes imposed upon all of Georgia tax payers. 7 or 17 billions over those years cause me some grave concerns. That funding can be voted upon more than once and that 1 cent taxes will never go away! Then, none of us as tax payers was in any of those discussions; like we didn’t matter to this whole thing; then all of this ARC, Street Cars, etc., that was the icing on the cake because what this amount to is “a new Georiga Dome, upscale eateries, usscale shopping, garage parking decks to hold vehicles for all of the major events that is down town”…..nothing about putting anything away from the city. You can’t improve I-75, 85, 285, I-20 no more than widing them and then I really was sicken when I saw all of the slums, vacants buildings, homes, shopping malls..left for the rats and we want tax payers to fund this TSPLOST only to be used however the counties commisioners see’s fit. I am deeply ashamed at our officials for trying to get us to pay for something that we don’t have money for; our gas prices are really bad, food, clothing, homes, a way of life has been deeply impacted because we are so concerned with the “dollar bill” that we forget about the lives of our people who are struggling to live. The Mayors, Governors and all those involved have gotten their answers….Georgia citizens must be treated better than what we are being treated! The impact of this whole TSPLOST was another way to make money for the sake of the people who must invest in the cities they live in and to control most of the revenue. Nothing concrete for its citizens………not at all.


August 3rd, 2012
8:37 am

5 words trust politicians taxes NO


August 3rd, 2012
9:02 am

“The governor and General Assembly gave us this opportunity….” No, Mr. Johnson, state politicians passed off the responsibility to deal with transportation problems to the local folks, all the people you mention, who cavalierly divided up the pie for local, not regional “I salute my colleagues on the roundtable who took a bold step in selecting the project list unanimously.” Of course they did, they gave each other the pork each demanded to play.

You and your colleagues don’t seem to have figured out why the tax went down to a huge defeat. The people you represent don’t think you did a good job and they don’t trust you to manage the bad job that you did.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
9:53 am

“the list reflected a purposeful agenda to fund modes of transportation least likely to provide congestion relief and more likely to promote high-density development in the suburbs under the context of new urbanism principles, prompting people in the apartment building and real estate development industries to salivate”

Yes folks New Urbanism is the way cities will grow in the future so yes provider transportation options that will work with that type of growth is key. More transit and transit oriented development is needed, even in the burbs, or should we just continue with the sprawl Mr. Brown. The same sprawl that has cause the traffic problem we have now.

Urban development will get people out of their cars and in an environment where they can walk and stay in there core area for services versus having to hope in their cars and SUV and drive to the nearest strip mall just to get anything from there curved street subdivisions. Backwards thinking, which is why you and those who think like you need to stay out of the metro region. Go to the backwoods where you belong!!

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
9:56 am

@ Retired Old Atlantan

“No one is making you sit in congested traffic. If you don’t like it, move closer to your job or get another job”

That’s what everyone should do. Just move closer to your job. It’s so easy to just pick up and move!

What if you like your home? What if near your job they don’t have the type of home you are looking for? What if the homes near your job aren’t in your price range? That is just a stupid option to even put on the table! We need better transportation options. Transit being one of them!

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
9:59 am

@ Retired Old Atlantan again!

“And if I were bringing a substantial new business to Atlanta, I sure wouldn’t want to put it inside the city limits of Atlanta with all of its problems, including traffic congestion, when I could put it out in the suburbs with fewer problems and likely less expense”

The city has traffic problems due to all the folks coming from the burbs to get to the jobs here! Trust the burbs have just as much problems, including crime and traffic, as ATL does. That’s why the 3 largest business districts are in ATL (downtown, Midtown, and Buckhead). Check the skylines old guy.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
10:08 am

@ zeke August 2nd, 2012 11:20 am

You need to get your facts correct. Mass transit is a great mode of moving people around and would have given great options to those who didn’t want to be stuck behind the wheel. MARTA takes 500,000 people a day off the road, and it only serves an area of 2 million! That’s 25%, not 1% as you stated, which obviously are your own uneducated guesses.

The type of interstates you think will help will only help with traffic traveling THROUGH Atlanta. The problem is with LOCAL traffic! So we don’t need another loop around the loop we already have. We need options for local people to move around the city and a way for them to connect to the city and to other suburbs. Having improved roads is one way but is not the only way. Improve rail services and more express and bus rapid transit is needed.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
10:12 am

@ Mr. Liberty

“We all know that rail is unsustainable in this town and that roads, road improments and the like are the right way to go”

So I guess when the roads mess up with pot holes or they need to be widen they just pay for themselves right? Just like transit needs to be continually funded so do roads and road “IMPROMENTS” (lol).

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
10:25 am

@ too little time August 2nd, 2012 8:30 am

You are right that you do have the vote but atleast be educated about it first. The Beltline is a way to 1) provider transit options to the inner core of the metro area, which is needed. This will allow more people who actually would try transit from the burbs to know there is efficient transit within the city so they don’t feel “lost” without their cars, 2) provides upgrade to miles of real estate to be redeveloped into something that is more than just abandoned track. Yeah this is a developers dream but this will stop all the high rises with huge parking decks that does nothing but promote condensed traffic and cars, 3) provides new parks and recreation to the city of Atlanta, the head of the metro region. Great reasons to support a project for the city, which will in the end, benefit the entire region!

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
10:47 am

@ Darrel August 1st, 2012 11:57 pm
@ Not ITP August 1st, 2012 9:14 pm

Very backwards thinking. Remember that next time you look to widen your roads out where you live and you use tax dollars that the state gives you… remember that ATL generaged over 50% of that money. Remember that ATL is the head of the metro area and when Atlanta fails your suburb will go down too.

So please stay out of ATL and inside the perimeter where progressive thinking and ideas are. You don’t want to pay for our transit and we don’t want to pay for your 30 lane interstates.

Transit is accepted in Fulton and Dekalb so lets fund our own transit. Lets tax ourselves to build a better transit system. For those in the burbs who want to ride or park at the stations then let them pay to do so. Let the buses from the burbs pay too and let them pay with tolls to come inside of 285! Let them deal with traffic while we use our options of roads and transit to keep the inner core moving.

Bryan -- MARTA supporter

August 3rd, 2012
10:54 am

@ Good grief August 1st, 2012 8:22 pm

Very well put. I agree.


August 3rd, 2012
8:43 pm

Lets move all state funded university systems out of Atlanta, lets move all state jobs and make the Federal jobs save money and move out of Atlanta…………….we would save enough money to feed the entire world……………..anything that gets any state or federal funds must leave ATL.