Power Breakfast: Lessons for transportation vote, college spending, Cobb finances, Grady, NFL, debt talks

Can Atlanta learn from Denver?

That’s the question posed by AJC reporter Ariel Hart when she went west to take a look at what lessons the transportation tax passed out there may provide for us.

If voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta region approve a penny sales tax next year to raise $7 billion over 10 years for transportation, they will be treading new ground, Hart writes. But Denver has done it before, with a 122-mile “FasTracks” rail transit expansion, plus 18 miles of rapid bus service, approved in 2004.

While the promise of FasTracks has some big fans in Denver among commuters and employers, its failings regarding cost and timetable also offer harsh lessons, Hart writes.

In Denver, FasTracks now has a $2 billion deficit, and some projects may be 25 years behind schedule, Hart writes. Cost estimates approved by voters in 2004 stood at $4.7 billion, but rose to $6.8 billion. On the revenue side, estimates over 30 years went from $13.7 billion in 2004 to $8 billion.

“You’ve got a situation where you have winners and losers,” said Erik Hansen, former mayor of Thornton, Colo., a small town in the northern Denver suburbs where voters are furious that they won’t get the train service they were promised in the 2004 vote for FasTracks.

Hart details some of the potential lessons for us. With our vote coming next year, it’s an important read.

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4 comments Add your comment

seabeau

July 25th, 2011
7:32 am

Why put in a fixed track system of transportation infastructure that can end up in the wrong place due to changing demographics ,will take up valuable real estate,force commuters to endure years of detors and cost billions. Simply close down downtown to all private transportation,excluding police and emergency equiptment. Purchase Hydrogen powered busses which have proven to be a success in Germany ,for ALL downtown transportation. Build large parking decks to handle the private vehicles

Homer

July 25th, 2011
9:01 am

We already have a rail system. The problem is that it’s useless unless your workplace is within walking distance to the station. Why not look at van shuttle service during rush hour in order to get passengers from the station to their workplace? The buses are too big and slow.

H

July 25th, 2011
9:17 am

You call that a rail system?? Its a joke. I would take a train every single day if it was expanded out and around the metro area. Its much easier than sitting in a car all day, praying I don’t get into an accident, wasting money on gas… AND wasting my time. I’ll jump on an expanded Marta at Holcomb Bridge every single day to Midtown…and watch all the morons sit on 400 while I’ll read my newspaper and check messages….Instead of looking at Denver, why don’t they look at DC. DC is about the same size with a real train system that continues to expand.

H

July 25th, 2011
9:22 am

Looking at Denver for transportation ideas is almost as smart as not having a Marta stop at Turner Field. Why would you look at a city that is half the size of Atlanta for a transportation study??