No vision, focus or direction in state transportation plans

State transportation officials have pulled the plug on the $1 billion “express lane” project on I-75 and I-575, thanks in part to behind-the-scenes pressure from Gov. Nathan Deal.

Reportedly, the “public-private partnership” envisioned to finance the deal was becoming less and less of a true partnership. The taxpayer subsidy demanded by investors in the project had grown from $300 million to $450 million or more, while still leaving control, operation and profits in private hands.

If that’s indeed the case, the cancellation was wise. But what now? The abandonment of the I-75 project ought to be an alarm bell alerting taxpayers to a deeper, more troubling problem. This is the second time that a toll project in that corridor has been proposed to private contractors and then withdrawn. As AJC reporter Ariel Hart points out, Georgia has now invested more than $50 million in that effort with nothing to show for it.

Why? Because transportation planning in this state continues to be plagued by a lack of focus, direction, vision and accountability. The state Department of Transportation is seeking its fourth commissioner in four years and is hamstrung by a divided board. Apparently, nobody can run the place. The department itself has been split in two by legislators, with a commissioner performing some functions and a state planning director performing others. At times, the State Road and Tollway Authority, a separate agency, seems to take the lead; at times it doesn’t. The governor’s office also plays a powerful role from time to time, as it apparently did in this case, but intervening when needed is not the same thing as providing steady guidance and vision.

In addition, the state Legislature has punted funding problems to regional agencies around the state, in effect telling local governments that if they want to build transit projects, they’re on their own. But state officials balk at giving those regional agencies the authority needed to operate transit efficiently. It is a mess, and that mess grows out of three unresolved problems:

– State officials, particularly in the Legislature, cannot bring themselves to acknowledge that mass transit is a necessity. Admitting that things have changed, that metro Atlanta has grown to the point that it has to pursue transit aggressively just like every other major metro region on the planet, represents a profound cultural shift that some Georgians aren’t ready to accept.

– The state needs to commit more money to transportation. It cannot build a world-class logistics and supply system founded on its ports and do it on a starvation transportation budget. It cannot attract corporate headquarters and biotech to a region choking in traffic. Passage of the 1-cent transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta next year represents the minimum of what must be done. “If we don’t pass it, the signal is disastrous,” economist Donald Ratajczak warned the Council on Quality Growth this month. “It makes us very difficult to attract anybody.”

Unfortunately, the sudden cancellation of the I-75 toll project only adds to the perception of indecision and incompetence, making passage of the sales tax less likely. Which lead us to …

– The state needs a rational, professional and accountable system of transportation decision-making. Competing visions, agendas and bureaucracies do not work. Every step taken in the last 20 years has served to cloud rather than clarify lines of responsibility, and we are reaping the consequences.

450 comments Add your comment

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
7:17 am

Admitting that things have changed [...] represents a profound cultural shift that some Georgians aren’t ready to accept.

Some Georgians really need to get out of the way.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
7:18 am

…and until some Georgians get out of the way, this headline pretty much says it all.

oh, and mornin’, all.

Dudley (Walmart is the root of all evil)

December 19th, 2011
7:24 am

Good morning all. It is a great day to be alive.

Granny Godzilla

December 19th, 2011
7:30 am

William Lind Makes a Conservative Case for Public Transit (Just Not Buses)

“Q.In the current political atmosphere, which obviously is polarized to an almost unprecedented extent, how do you see possibilities for the conversation on public transit moving forward?

A. I think the politicians are lagging behind their constituents. Conservatives, Republican officeholders and candidates expect the votes of middle-class, again, generally white people, who increasingly are using public transportation, want better transportation, want transit they actually want to use, as opposed to the usual bus, and find themselves needing it as their economic situation gets worse.

That’s one of the things we try to point out to them, that this isn’t just for someone else, but good public transit is something that the people who vote for them use and want and increasingly need. This kind of political lag, of course, is not uncommon. I am, in the short term, not optimistic, because again a lot of the incoming Republicans will have bought the libertarian line, that transit is subsidized and highways are not. Factually, that couldn’t be more wrong.”

Granny Godzilla

December 19th, 2011
7:31 am

Oh and

buh bye Dear Leader.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
7:33 am

GG, from your 7.30 link:

As a conservative, of course, I reject political correctness, which in fact is cultural Marxism.

See, if I were interviewing him, I’d just have to dope-slap him right then and there, and I’d never finish the interview. Which is why Sarah Goodyear is, clearly, a better person than I’ll ever be.

(fascinating read, by the way.)

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
7:35 am

buh bye Dear Leader.

It’s ok to hope *his* death was especially prolonged and painful, yes?

Jay

December 19th, 2011
7:36 am

sfd, we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.

Steve - USA

December 19th, 2011
7:36 am

Atlanta needs mass transit not the rest of the State.

ByteMe

December 19th, 2011
7:36 am

“If we don’t pass it, the signal is disastrous,”

And here I thought that Balkanizing regions to pass a 1 penny sales tax to fund infrastructure was the signal to companies that our legislators are a hinderance to this region’s growth.

Halftrack

December 19th, 2011
7:37 am

Our last Gov. is a big responsibility for the Transportation mess. When the Legislature split the GDOT this was a big error as Jay you now point out in your article. This what happens when the “elite” think they have all the answers and want power. The problem with the old system was that the DOT Board stopped being an independent board and holding the Commissioner accountable to anything. They forgot their role & resposibility and became the Commissioner’s tool. Let’s urge our Legislature to unite the DOT under one roof again.

Beverly Fraud

December 19th, 2011
7:39 am

Well a real part of the problem here is that officials are willing to BLATANTLY LIE to the voters when it comes to tolls. (As in INSULT their intelligence by claiming that, because it’s a “new toll” voters weren’t BLATANTLY LIED to about Georgia 400)

From Jay

Passage of the 1-cent transportation sales tax in metro Atlanta next year represents the minimum of what must be done. “If we don’t pass it, the signal is disastrous,” economist Donald Ratajczak warned the Council on Quality Growth this month. “It makes us very difficult to attract anybody.”

Jay, how do expect voters to support such when they are BLATANTLY LIED to? Where is the TRUST that it will be spent wisely, when a supposedly air tight agreement about Ga. 400 can be VIOLATED at the swoop of a pen?

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
7:40 am

sfd, we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.

Curse you, Mary Elizabeth!

ByteMe

December 19th, 2011
7:42 am

Oh, and scheduling the vote for that tax during the Republican/Tea Party primary… BRILLIANCE!!

Steve - USA

December 19th, 2011
7:42 am

So Atlanta has crumbling sewers, terrible traffic and a shaky supply of water. Why not move a business here? :)

Beverly Fraud

December 19th, 2011
7:43 am

From Jay

Unfortunately, the sudden cancellation of the I-75 toll project only adds to the perception of indecision and incompetence, making passage of the sales tax less likely. Which lead us to …

What is should lead is to is selling sponsorship rights to the Gold Dome. As in “The Georgia General Assembly, brought to you by Yahoo”

Yahoo would be the PERFECT match, because apparently, you can’t swing a stick in the Gold Dome with out hitting one, perhaps even a half dozen of them.

Beverly Fraud

December 19th, 2011
7:44 am

So Atlanta has crumbling sewers, terrible traffic and a shaky supply of water. Why not move a business here? :)

Well that’s simple Steve; the world class education APS has to offer!

Duh!

Jefferson

December 19th, 2011
7:44 am

Ration road time, treat everyone equal for time.

barking frog

December 19th, 2011
7:50 am

When the state elects Nathan Deal for Governor, no one can
complain about anything in government.

USinUK

December 19th, 2011
7:50 am

So Atlanta has crumbling sewers, terrible traffic and a shaky supply of water. Why not move a business here? :)

it’s all about the chilli slaw dogs at the V

Jefferson

December 19th, 2011
7:58 am

Services for nothing, the GOP fools again.

willydoit?

December 19th, 2011
8:01 am

“Services for nothing, the GOP fools again.”

This is pretty much true in both parties.

Steve - USA

December 19th, 2011
8:04 am

To actually take the Jay’s article seriously for a moment, Atlanta confuses me. I have been to a lot of big cities and I used to live in the Northeast. In every other city you knew exactly where everything was, the financial district, waterfront, cultural district, etc.. Atlanta doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to it. The outer loop was built to close to the city and that caused the city to be fragmented.

Perhaps it’s a “Chicken and the egg” problem but it seems like mass transit would be difficult to make efficient in this fragmented city or maybe the mass transit will better define the city and progress will more clearly develop along the mass transit corridors.

Another problem is a ton of traffic on 75/85 is traffic that has no interest in going to Atlanta, it is pass through traffic. Either 75 or 85 needs to be re-routed so trucks and cars can avoid Atlanta entirely. 75 needs to move like 30-50 miles west of Atlanta and go straight to Macon. or 85 needs to go East of Atlanta.

Just brainstorming. :)

altanta mom

December 19th, 2011
8:05 am

Steve,
Just remember. Georgia without Atlanta is: Mississippi.

Adam

December 19th, 2011
8:05 am

Jay: sfd, we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.

Talk about a lack of sense of humor.

People who complain about that: You suck. Go ahead, hit the “report” button.

Adam

December 19th, 2011
8:06 am

Where’s the reliable “This is Obama’s fault” crowd? I need my daily conservabot crack!

Sean Smith

December 19th, 2011
8:06 am

Quit whining about the 400 toll. Its not like there taking that money and going out to have a party. There using it for the interchange at 400 & 85 that should have been built 15 years ago. Roads aren’t free and thats the big problem. The no taxes crowd has got the legislature so scared that they cant raise the gas tax and build some new roads and subways. Here they created a NEW toll to pay for 400 improvements and all the get is whining.

Steve - USA

December 19th, 2011
8:08 am

Jay@7:36 sfd, we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.

Not surprised, it is pretty childish.

Adam

December 19th, 2011
8:10 am

Well, if you don’t like science and you don’t like the “bitches” thing, you’ll HATE this:

http://xkcd.com/54/

(Go ahead, hit “Report this comment”)

Bud Wiser

December 19th, 2011
8:13 am

Drove up and down I-85 Saturday day and later that night.

Traffic was, as usual, horrific.

However, one (if so inclined) could have pushed a baby carriage all the way north and returning south in the so-called ‘express’ lane….you know, the one the govt spent millions to construct, put up for sale permit cards that no one is buying, and now squeezes the traffic into one less usable lane while the express lane is empty.

The 400 toll has been successful because if its specific routing, however sticking a pay lane on a previously free ‘freeway’ has caused a howl.

Add me to the howling mob.

Stupid, and yet another ill thought-out WASTE of taxpayer money.

HDB

December 19th, 2011
8:13 am

The problem is that the state has had a lack of focus pertaining to transportation for over FORTY YEARS!! When the initial vision of MARTA was to be a REGIONAL transportation system…and the powers that be outside the perimeter waged battle to keep MARTA out of their neighborhoods, it was quite evident that npt just the politicians….but the people themselves lacked the vision to deal with transportation issues!!

The old airline joke says when God dies and goes to heaven, he has to change planes in Atlanta…..
If our attitude about transportation doesn’t change…businesses won’t move to Atlanta….and money (the “god” of man) won’t find its way into a city that sorely needs it!!

USinUK

December 19th, 2011
8:13 am

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
8:14 am

Steve – USA “So Atlanta has crumbling sewers, terrible traffic and a shaky supply of water. Why not move a business here?”

Haven’t you heard son? It’s the taxes I tell ya, the taxes! Once you get those out of the way, all other problems magically fix themselves. At least that’s what the drones keep telling me.

Paul

December 19th, 2011
8:15 am

Is this an example of how Republicans know how to run government like a business?

Paul

December 19th, 2011
8:15 am

Mornin’ back atcha’, sfd.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
8:18 am

People who complain about that: You suck. Go ahead, hit the “report” button.

I actually don’t mind because a) the “b” word even in this context was problematic, and b) the joke was pretty much played.

independent thinker

December 19th, 2011
8:18 am

How come no one has blamed this on Obama?

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
8:19 am

indepnedent thinker – “How come no one has blamed this on Obama?”

Because Hannity, Boortz and Limbaugh haven’t told the sheep what to think yet.

Paul

December 19th, 2011
8:19 am

USinUK

“we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.”

While I was living over there near you, I’d love it when an American would walk up to a Brit and ask “Is that a girl dog?”

USNC

December 19th, 2011
8:24 am

privatize it!

as all GOPpers know privatizing fixes all that ails you.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
8:27 am

And they’ll REALLY hate this

sigh. takes me back, that clip, to when I found this, over at Atrios’… and I wished I didn’t get the reference, but I did, and I knew how he was putting on a brave face.

Sorry for the threadjack, Jay. Today’s is an important topic and kudos for keeping the disinterested and dissolute readers focused on it, thankless though your task may be.

Rob

December 19th, 2011
8:31 am

Mary Elizabeth

December 19th, 2011
8:32 am

sfd@7:40
sfd, we’ve had complaints about the “bitches” thing.

Curse you, Mary Elizabeth!
——————————————

Let the record show that I have been falsely accused by sfd! :-)

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
8:33 am

Jay, your editorial is right on! While GDOT was considered “arrogant” in the past leading up to the past 10 years, they got things done correctly. Our state road system was rated No1. We had a fantastic R&D, maintenance, and design programs. They utilized the latest technology in materials and process. They even altered our public info programs and design guidelines to become less “arrogant. But the politicians were not satisfied.

Even though the board members in a congressional district were elected by the sitting elected officials, the officials wanted more. Now politics has infected the Board even more with the fingers of the govermor, lt governor etc reaching deeper into GDOT as evidenced by the Planning Director being appointed by the governor. (Don’t get me wrong, Todd Long is a fine engineer and planner; but his directives are coming from the governor). Even the lt Gov recently stated his goal for managed lanes on I 85.Do these guys have planning or engineering degrees? A clue?

In addition GDOT has been bled to death by reducing staff as the most qualified engineers retired or left. Down to a skeleton staff due to the retirement of very qualified and dedicated engineers and staff, the politicians are running wild.Where do the new stars come from who can manage GDOT? Consultants? Yeah, right!

They preach smart development and fiscal responsibility, but then sell a huge amount of bonds (debt payment $400M a year) and wait for a sugar daddy to come in a do a PPP, instead of bellying up to the bar to provide revenues needed…no, required to keep Georgians moving.

Vance Smith, the latest Commissioner, who started to put GDOT back together after Gena Evans tore it apart, was run off. His official “retirement ” starts at the end of the month. While being a politician himself, ( He was the Senate transportation committee leader before this), he did have a knowledge about GDOT’s role and worked towards restoring it. Vance, thanks for a job well done.(Yes I know about the ice storm debacle- makes my point about experience of staff.) Now let’s see what “improvement” the Board…er, the Governor will allow!

Redneck Convert (R--and proud of it)

December 19th, 2011
8:35 am

Well, we do need more and better roads, but no trains. I ain’t paying taxes so some dirty downtown hippy can hop on a train outside of his high-rise and get to the next drug drop on my dime. I say we widen every road to about 10 lanes. Heck, pave the entire area over if you have to. That way, there’s no yard mowing and everybody can get to the road right outside of their door.

Oh, and build that GA 400 entrance and exit from Simpsons Trailer Park. I’m sick of driving 10 miles to get to GA 400 when I can see it from my trailer.

And make it all free and throw in a Tax Cut to boot.

Have a good Monday everybody.

MiltonMan

December 19th, 2011
8:35 am

Leave it to the libs to make this a political issue. What exactly did the dems who controlled the state for 130+ years do in terms of transportation??? The last I heard was that the re-tread Roy Barnes siphoned money from GA400 for Atlantic Station.

Peter

December 19th, 2011
8:39 am

Since the 85 toll began, I have stayed away from using the road, I wonder how many folks have doe the same ?

I also wonder if the business in the corridor have suffered ?

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
8:40 am

MiltonMan – “What exactly did the dems who controlled the state for 130+ years do in terms of transportation???”

I can’t speak for the libs, but wasn’t Hartsfield Jackson and Marta built somwhere along that timeline? Or do you not consider air travel and metro rail to be transportation?

Bosch

December 19th, 2011
8:41 am

miltonMan,

The only one who mentioned politics was you. Therefore if it is libs who are making this a political issue, that would be you — so when did you start identifying yourself as a Lib?

MiltonMan

December 19th, 2011
8:42 am

The clowns who keep bringing up that businesses/people will not move here are nothing more than ostriches with their heads stuck in the sand.

Yes, transporation is indeed important but not the only factor in this decision. Low taxes (check out the tax rates in the northeastern quadrant), right to work state, decent weather, education, crime, etc. all have influence on the decision.

Last time I checked, GA is still receiving mopre new residents than losing residnets in a larger number than most other states.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
8:42 am

Quit whining about the 400 toll.

Yeah, I actually don’t get that. I mean I get that people feel they were misled and all, but really, compared to the big picture of inertia, greed and stupidity that rules the day here in MetroLanta transit, it’s a pretty small potatoes.

RB from Gwinnett

December 19th, 2011
8:42 am

Why can’t we just be honest about the major problem with the metro area traffic issues? None of the counties surrounding the city want anything to do with their tax dollars becoming part of the MARTA budget under the control of yet another Atlanta jobs program. All of them know they need that mass transit connection into the city; yet they’re all willing to create their own bus service to avoid feeding the MARTA beast.

But we all keep dancing around the issue because it’s not politically correct to be honest about why every last county in the metro area is doing the exact same thing to avoid MARTA.

As to the transportation plan as a whole, the governor needs to step up and provide some leadership and the people who stand in the way need to be urged to seek other gainful employment; including the management of MARTA. Too many fifedoms being protected at the expense of everybody else.

Paul

December 19th, 2011
8:43 am

Bosch

You like ’sploding heads in the morning?

too little time

December 19th, 2011
8:44 am

First, I think you have to separate the toll fiasco from transportation finance. as Beverly Fraud wrote a few comments past:

Well a real part of the problem here is that officials are willing to BLATANTLY LIE to the voters when it comes to tolls. (As in INSULT their intelligence by claiming that, because it’s a “new toll” voters weren’t BLATANTLY LIED to about Georgia 400)

For one, it is that. Secondly, though, as the Gwinnett toll lanes have shown, THE TOLL LANES ARE NOT MEANT TO DECREASE TRAFFIC CONGESTION! They are meant to 1) raise money and 2) provide a faster commute method to those that can afford it. In Gwinnett, they have served to screw the other lanes and make them MORE congested.

But the rest of Jay’s article just goes to show the split between a major metro area and the majority (by area) rural state. Mass transit in Atlanta is getting no traction in Metter, or Statesboro, or Bainbridge or Baxley. Why should it? THAT is the reason for the transportation districts. ALL areas of the state need more money, and whatever is decided for Atlanta is of little consequence to most of the rest of Georgia.

MiltonMan

December 19th, 2011
8:44 am

Bosch:

Paul: “Is this an example of how Republicans know how to run government like a business?”

Thanks for yet again displaying your ignorance.

stands for decibels

December 19th, 2011
8:46 am

Let the record show that I have been falsely accused by sfd!

I always had a problem with that Ninth Commandment. I think Moses chiseled that one just to annoy me, personally.

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
8:47 am

Milton Man: I guess you never heard of Freeing the Freeways..rebuilding and expanding the Interstate system in Atlanta, or implemnting the Interstate system in GA. Nor have you heard that we had, under the Democrats, the No 1 state route and interstate system in the US? We have the worlds busiest airport. A freight rail system that needs expansion due to the growth in Georgia that happened under Demo leadership.

Gov Barnes was to unveil a new transportation program for Georgia when he was defeated .Transportation has always been political in Georgia, but Repubs have brought it to its knees. The accounting issue at GDOT…guess who received regular briefings on what was done and how it was done? I bet you can’t guess!?

Paul

December 19th, 2011
8:47 am

MiltonMan

Thanks for yet again answering a question by making a statement without any supporting reasons.

Can’t say ‘ignorance’ when a person’s incapable, eh?

AmVet

December 19th, 2011
8:48 am

I have done no research to confirm the numbers, but I suspect that Georgia’s days as one of the premier locales to relocate for businesses and families is coming to an end. Perhaps already has.

Even with the conservative corporatist neo-cons in the Dirty Deal administration trying to give away the farm.

Yes the weather is great, or at least significantly better than that in Philadelphia or Billings.

But the massive problems with infrastructure, education, ungodly commutes and quality of life are becoming well documented.

How many years did it take to repave the abysmally rutted I-285? And how many more the next time?

And now that we have these god-fearing economic liberals running the show in Atlanta, the slide down the charts is accelerating. And for evidence as to how entrenched the incompetence and immorality is here, look no further than the two boobs from Georgia who ran for president.

The post of the day?

Just remember. Georgia without Atlanta is: Mississippi.

(Sorry, jo jo…)

MiltonMan

December 19th, 2011
8:50 am

Butch using MARTA as a great liberal transportation creation.

Brilliant!

Adam

December 19th, 2011
8:51 am

Just remember. Georgia without Atlanta is: Mississippi.

dayum.

MARTA Rida

December 19th, 2011
8:52 am

Expand MARTA up 85, 75, and the top-end Perimeter. That will help alleviate the traffic from suburb-to-suburb commutes. Atlanta already has a great mass-transit system that serves ITP good, but its communities OTP that need to be reached. Passage of the 1-cent sales tax in 2012 will be a step in the right direction. Cobb and Gwinnett need to pass the MARTA tax to assist int he expansion of the system and absorb their crappy county-wide transit systems into MARTA.

AmVet

December 19th, 2011
8:54 am

Redact my last to read:

Even with the conservative corporatist neo-cons in the Dirty Deal administration trying to give away the farm.

And with that unforgivable formatting error, I’m off to do my duty and struggle for the legal tender.

Have a great day, beeotches! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the evil, blue nosed censor bot!)

MiltonMan

December 19th, 2011
8:54 am

Road:

Eisenhower was the one who championed the interstate highway system but good try.

(ir)Rational

December 19th, 2011
8:58 am

For me, it comes down to the problem of everyone having their own projects, and not wanting to work together. Along with the state legislature not wanting to push over the money needed for the projects. I’m not sure what the answer will be in the long run, but I think we need to figure out some way to combine MARTA with Cobb Transit, and Gwinnett Transit and the other half dozen or so regional transit agencies and put them under the same name, and same leadership and have one board making all the decisions for all of them.

Also, the posts about Georgia being Mississippi without Atlanta – while funny it isn’t true. Georgia still doesn’t allow casinos, Mississippi does; so without Atlanta, Georgia < Mississippi.

RB from Gwinnett

December 19th, 2011
8:59 am

“Passage of the 1-cent sales tax in 2012 will be a step in the right direction.”

As long as the funds will be under the control of the MARTA jobs program, the tax will never pass. The surrounding counties won’t allow their money to be managed the way things are in the city of Atlanta. From the sewer system to APS to the DeKalb CEO, pretty much everything about the way Atlanta is managed. Won’t happen.

I-75 commuter

December 19th, 2011
8:59 am

The answer is simple, but implementation has proven to be difficult. Raise the gas taxes, build MARTA trains and more lanes up I-75. Stop starving transportation. This is a Georgia constitutional issue. Politicians do your jobs!

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
9:03 am

Milton: You are correct. Who built it? Having the idea was courageous and far reaching. Implementing it provided the results of his inspiration!

(ir)Rational

December 19th, 2011
9:03 am

MARTA Rida – Not sure that I agree with the suggestion that we have a good system ITP, I still have to walk or drive most places to get around in the city. Even if I do decide to take MARTA, it ends up taking twice as long, or more. I had a friend in school who could walk to campus in 15 minutes or take a series of buses and get there in 45. If you have to plan for 2 or 3 times as much time to get places to use the mass transit system, is it really efficient or good?

Granny Godzilla

December 19th, 2011
9:04 am

Milton Man

Ike took up where FDR left off….

Phil C.

December 19th, 2011
9:06 am

Great article — I agree we need to clean up the “management” side of this problem in addition to the funding side.

More broadly, however, I strongly URGE observers and concerned citizens of Georgia to view this issue (transportation) as a great opportunity to unite people of different political stripes for a common cause. Please do not waste time finger-pointing and name-calling while our infrastructure crumbles and/or fails to get built.

For some background — I am a strong believer in limited government and conservative principles. If you wanted to label me, I probably empathize more with the Tea Party than the “mainline” GOP, but I consider myself affiliated with neither. Still, I feel the development and maintenance of world-class infrastructure (roads, rail, urban transit, water, sewer, energy pipelines, communications, etc) is one of the most sacred responsibilities of our government, second only to defending life and liberty. If providing this means additional taxation, so be it.

I would rather pay more now (the penny sales tax) than hope/assume the cause of limited government will eventually whittle away the needed funds from superfluous federal/state/local governmental agencies in the next 10 years. I could care less what political party or special interest has steered away the necessary funds for transportation in Georgia in the past, because I have the power to do something about the problem now. I will concede, however, that the recent debacles on 75/85 do not bode well for the passage of this tax, nor the “consumer confidence” in those being asked to “buy” this program. Still, I assume the legal structure of the tax (pre-approved list of projects, 10 year sunset) should safeguard the citizens from paying for something they didn’t buy.

Also, for those (either on the political right or left) who like to think in black and white and would dismiss my stated beliefs as inconsistent — I believe “limited government” refers to the clarification of purpose rather than universal, disdain for all functions of our government or an absolute opposition to increased government spending in areas of great need. Many taking heads in the biased media (most notably MSNBC) equivocate “small government” to mean “no government” and one who thus espouses the former AND supports any sort of new spending or tax measure is therefore a hypocrite to be scorned/dismissed. This is simple-mindedness and Georgians should not fall for this kind of rhetoric.

Do what is needed and pass this penny tax.

(ir)Rational

December 19th, 2011
9:06 am

Oh, and one other thing before I have to get to work – I read over the weekend where there was a private investment group wanting to partner with the City and County officials along 75 and the top end of 285 to build a private train system from Kennesaw to Cumberland to Dunwoody. If that happens, great, but I see horrible problems trying to the existing public transit systems with fares and things of that nature.

Road Scholar

December 19th, 2011
9:07 am

Good morning Granny!

Question to all: If MARTA rail is expanded, should it “follow” the Interstates, or be constructed to connect the cities and activity centers and encourage higher densities?

Common Sense

December 19th, 2011
9:07 am

The corridor from Palmetto to Milton has been paying for MARTA since the 70’s.

Only a small section has anything to show for those decades of tax dollars. This fanciful idea that if everyone votes for mass transit, everyone will have access to it is a myth of massive proportions.

There are large blocks of Fulton County that have never been served by MARTA.

They want you paying taxes for it. They are just not going to be able to provide a benefit for you because it is not cost effective.

And you have to consider this: If it was simple to get in and out of Atlanta, how much of the growth back into the city would we have seen? There is indeed an incentive to keep it just tough enough of a commute to avoid an additional exodus of high property tax payers to the far reaches of Metro Atlanta, and keep them paying higher property taxes in the city of Atlanta.

Thulsa Doom

December 19th, 2011
9:09 am

“Why? Because transportation planning in this state continues to be plagued by a lack of focus, direction, vision and accountability”-Jay

Aaaah. Govt at its finest.

“The state needs to commit more money to transportation”- Jay

The obvious liberal solution? Throw more money at the problem. Couldn’t see that one coming could we?

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
9:10 am

MiltonMan – “Butch using MARTA as a great liberal transportation creation.

Brilliant

I didn’t say it was great or brilliant. I merely replied to your inquiry as to what have the Dems done in the last 130 years in regard to transportation. If you don’t like the answer, don’t ask the question.

(ir)Rational

December 19th, 2011
9:13 am

Road – I would favor connecting from one urban center to the next, but the amount of money that would take, and the people that would scream about losing property and homes and stuff – not sure it would be worth it. So, we’ll probably end up with (assuming something is ever built) what we already have out in the suburbs – a train/bus station with a 3 or 4 acre gravel lot to park everyone’s car in. So we can drive (and sit in traffic) to get on a bus/train to avoid sitting in traffic.

Call it like it is

December 19th, 2011
9:13 am

Penny tax on anything that has to do with cars. Gas, oil changes, tires. All goes to a dedicated fund to address gdot needs. Oh yeah props to Deal to stop this. At least he was watching out for tax payers wellfare. What sounded good at first quickly became a nightmare for Ga citizens.

Dudley (Walmart is the root of all evil)

December 19th, 2011
9:14 am

Without Atlanta, Georgia is utopia.

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
9:17 am

Milton Man – “Last time I checked, GA is still receiving mopre new residents than losing residnets in a larger number than most other states.”

I guess you haven’t checked in a while.

2010 Top 5 Fastest Growing States
1.Nevada
2.Arizona
3.Utah
4.Idaho
5.Texas

Bosch

December 19th, 2011
9:18 am

Paul,

LOL, nothing says the Holidays like wingnut brains on the wall. :)

Mike

December 19th, 2011
9:19 am

AMEN, Dudley

TallaDawg

December 19th, 2011
9:20 am

Steve USA – Right on.

Atlanta mom @ 8:05: That attitude is what has Atlanta where it is. If Atlanta would get is collective head out of the clouds and noses out of the air, maybe they could see how to start solving their problems.

TallaDawg

December 19th, 2011
9:22 am

Butch @9:17 – Do you REALLY want to live in any of those states?? I do not.

Adam

December 19th, 2011
9:23 am

The wingnuts must be on vacation. Still no mention of how this is Obama’s fault, or attempted hijack to something about Fast and Furious or Solyndra. You’re SLIPPING, people!

RB from Gwinnett

December 19th, 2011
9:23 am

“Question to all: If MARTA rail is expanded, should it “follow” the Interstates, or be constructed to connect the cities and activity centers and encourage higher densities?”

I think you need to use the existing highway space to the point of taking an existing lane of highway and putting a commuter rail on it. Tie into that going to the towns from there as needed using rail lines on existing streets. We already have park and ride lots all along the interstates that could serve as stations/lots and adding rail to lanes would keep the cost to install down tremendously.

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
9:25 am

Hey MiltonMan, here’s a little more up to date list with the 2011 numbers

Top 10 Fastest Growing States in 2011

1.Alaska
2.North Dakota
3.Wyoming
4.South Dakota
5.Maryland
6.Virginia
7.Oklahoma
8.Texas
9.Nebraska
10.Iowa

No charge for the research.

Keep Up the Good Fight!

December 19th, 2011
9:25 am

“The state needs to commit more money to transportation”- Jay

The obvious liberal solution? Throw more money at the problem. Couldn’t see that one coming could we?

The obvious conned solution? Cut the budget and get rid of transportation planning. Couldn’t see that one coming could we? Oh wait….its what we bascially have now? How’s that working for ya?

Mountain Man

December 19th, 2011
9:25 am

“Quit whining about the 400 toll. Its not like there taking that money and going out to have a party. There using it for the interchange at 400 & 85 that should have been built 15 years ago”

If that interchange should have been built with the original 400 then that is when it should have been built. THEN when it is all paid off the toll booths should come down. Face it, a lot of people are OUTRAGED that a deal was made and hen was broken. Mark my words, the toll booths will NEVER come down on 400! When there is no more money to be spent on building 400, it will be maintaining 400, then it will be keeing toll booth operators with jobs. And then the money will go to other highways! I personally will NEVER vote for more sales tax for transportation because of the 400 debacle. And there are a lot of folks out there who will agree with me.

1811/0311

December 19th, 2011
9:27 am

While we’re on the subject of the State Department of Transportation, can those North Korean Army caps get any bigger?

Butch Cassidy

December 19th, 2011
9:29 am

Talladawg – “Butch @9:17 – Do you REALLY want to live in any of those states?? I do not.”

I grew up in Utah, and I got my degree from UNLV. As to whether or not you or I would choose to live in them, it’s irrelevant. My replay was merely the counterpoint to MiltonMans ascertation that Georgia was gaining residents faster than any other state. Which clearly the data shows to be inaccurate. By the way, Utah has the best powedr conditions for skiing in the any of the Western States. Try skiing a few vertical feet at Alta before you turn your nose up.

Jm

December 19th, 2011
9:30 am

Communist Kim killed over a million of his own people during the 90’s due to rigid faith in communist ideology

Good riddance.

Will Americans see obama’s actions for what they are? The same ideology, only a lighter version?

Take you pick, Kim’s crack or Obama’s cocaine. It’s all bad stuff.

Thulsa Doom

December 19th, 2011
9:31 am

2010 Top 5 Fastest Growing States
1.Nevada
2.Arizona
3.Utah
4.Idaho
5.Texas

Aren’t these all red states? Or at least 4 of the 5 with Nevada being a purple state that went red with a Republican in the last election cycle?

Thulsa Doom

December 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Jm,

Are you delighting in the liberal’s sadness that Kim Jong Il has died?

Steve - USA

December 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Butch,

Georgia was #7 in 2010 so the statement “most other States” is accurate.

ty webb

December 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Kim Jong Il is dead!

Chalk another one up for our President.

Way to go President Obama.

Paul

December 19th, 2011
9:33 am

Off topic followup to previous post:

the one on top 10 CEO compensation. I was wondering just what impact it would have on companies if Boards granted less compensation to the CEO and distributed the money to the workers. After all we’ve been hearing about the top 1% getting richer while the middle class remains stagnant.

McKesson, instead of getting $145 million a year, if he got $45 million and the rest was distributed worldwide, employees would average over three grand a year increase. That’s for their worldwide operations. Omnicare – instead of getting $98 million a year, if the CEO got $38 million then full-time workers could get an increas of over four grand a year.

Seems like a better way than a stim package or a measly tax cut to increase purchasing power which would be spent over a wider number of sectors and affect lots more producers and small businesses.

And a $40 million a year comp package is still pretty darn good for a distribution company.

RB from Gwinnett

December 19th, 2011
9:34 am

“LOL, nothing says the Holidays like wingnut brains on the wall. ”

I see you’re full of HATE again today, Bosch. Nice….

Mountain Man

December 19th, 2011
9:35 am

Why have just certain counties pay the 1 cent MARTA tax. If you ask me, it is the businesses in Atlanta that need to pony up a transportation tax (including the airport). They are the ones receiving the benefit. I would ride marta rail from Woodstock to the airport and not have to be in traffic, but Marta doesn’t come up here. I would ride marta to the Braves games, except Marta trains don’t go to the stadium. I would even pay a reasonable fare to do either of those things. We can’t even get the riders of Marta in Atlant to cough up a reasonable fare. If you try to raise fares, they revolt!

If you want to build a HOT lane up the I-75/ I-575 corridor, it should be done entirely with private money and expected to generate its own revenue from tolls. You definitely should NOT take an existing lane away from the rest of us and give it to the wealthy for a “lexus” lane.

Better idea is to get the businesses to start moving out of Atlanta and coming out to where the people are, in the suburbs. Leave Atlanta to its own demise.

Paul

December 19th, 2011
9:36 am

Jm

“Pres Obama’s ideology is nearly the same as Kim Jong Il’s.”

And you want to be taken seriously?