Go much past I-285, and transportation bill’s road is bumpy

It turns out that you still can’t spell “transportation” in Georgia without T-R-U-S-T. Honk, spelling champs among us, if you see a problem.

It is an article of faith in metro Atlanta that legislators must finally pass a transportation funding bill this year. When the leaders of the House and Senate stood beside Gov. Sonny Perdue last month as he unveiled such a bill, the new plan looked set for a smooth ride.

But since then a familiar tension has resurfaced: Atlanta versus the rest of the state.

I’ve found very few people who dispute that the governor’s plan works for metro Atlanta. Some speed bumps would remain: What about the MARTA penny? Is eight years enough time for a penny sales tax for transportation? Would local governments have enough say in the project list? But these issues can be resolved.

People outside metro Atlanta, however, view the plan more skeptically.

Some regions are dominated by a single city. In the River Valley region, Columbus/Muscogee County accounts for more than half of the population and nearly two-thirds of the tax’s projected revenues; no other county in the region reaches even 10 percent by either measure. Smaller counties worry about being outvoted and made to pay for others’ improvements.

(For comparison’s sake, Fulton County has just a quarter of the population, and less than a third of the projected revenues, in the Atlanta Regional Commission, or ARC.)

Then there’s the fact that, while the ARC is a well-defined area, other regions have little natural cohesiveness.

The Northwest Georgia region stretches from Blue Ridge near the North Carolina border, to Trenton in the far northwest corner, all the way down to I-20 as it enters Alabama from Haralson County. Folks in Hiram probably care little about improving an intersection of state highways in Dalton, and vice versa.

You can fit a square peg into a round hole, if the peg is small enough. But a plan to raise billions of dollars in sales taxes to accelerate transportation projects is a pretty big peg.

Some local officials worry that they’ll go without state transportation dollars if they don’t pass the sales tax. Others are concerned that state funding will skip the regions that do pass the tax, cheating those who tax themselves.

Obviously, these scenarios cannot both be true. But the fact that these opposite fears have cropped up together speaks to the lack of trust local officials outside metro Atlanta — and perhaps some of the ones in it — have in the state when it comes to transportation.

The bill has provisions to allay such fears, such as a new formula to divide existing state transportation funds among the regions. But the fact that the formula has changed twice already this month, and rather sharply each time, undercuts the certainty it’s supposed to add.

What’s more, some local officials ask why they should take responsibility for what they argue is a state function.

All of this is bringing the bill’s passage into doubt if some compromises aren’t reached. One possibility is to let counties opt out of participating in their region’s plan. Would that undermine the bill’s basic premise? Perhaps. But it beats getting no bill.

A distant Plan B is to find a legal way to authorize a tax only for the Atlanta Regional Commission. Better for legislators to pass an actual “ARC bill” than to reject what they think is just an “ARC bill.”

104 comments Add your comment

Michael H. Smith

March 12th, 2010
8:50 pm

Kyle, is a party-pooper. OMG! Just when we were going to attack BIG GUB’MENT, now we gotta think Ree-gional again. Shades of Ye Ole King Roy hath returned.

b. j. nesbit

March 12th, 2010
11:41 pm

I get so tired of you and people like you stating the majority of Americans don’t want health care reforms. That is because the majority of you have insurance. Take a poll of people who do not have health care and see if you get a majority. Give up your health insurance and you will be singing another song. Have some compassion!

96 SC

March 13th, 2010
12:56 am

Kyle, I agree that we have a need for an encompassing transpoortation plan, but before we can accomplish any transpoortation relief; wee must elect competent Political Leaders who will have the sense to listen to all Georgians Transportation Requirements. When I came to Georgia in 1964 to attend College, there were several Intra and Inter State Passenger Rail Lines in use as well as three major Train Stations in Atlanta.. Those mostly unused tracks still exist today

vuduchld

March 13th, 2010
1:10 am

This article, like you is a joke. Jawja will never get it’s tranportation house in order, that is why it got by passed by the feds a couple of months ago. There are too many brain dead politicans in your state to manage and lead anything. No sense in continuing to suck scarce dollars down a black hole. I say save the $$$, let your state coke on itself and die, then you folks can go back to the old South you so long for.

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
7:15 am

I get so tired of you and people like you stating the majority of Americans don’t want health care reforms.

Did you make any such ridiculous statement in any regards to lead anyone to believe Americans don’t want health care reforms, Kyle?

For what it is worth just in case yours truly is the intended YOU(person) of this foolish comment in question, for the record one more time, put the following “binding resolution” on a national ballot immediately for the American people to vote upon, wherein the results shall be enacted by the Congress in legislation within 90 days or the majority having expressed its’ WILL via a ballot initiative shall in effect become the law of the land:

a) Keep the status quo

b) ObumerCare a.k.a. THE ROBUST PUBLIC SOCIALIST OPTION GUB’MENT CARE

c) Healthcare Cooperatives the people own, control and administrate

Now, bring it on!

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
7:34 am

Did my last comment concerning healthcare break the blog?

Jon

March 13th, 2010
7:37 am

If we agreed to build a 16-lane highway between Moultrie and Valdosta, will those holding Atlanta hostage on transportation ease up?

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
7:43 am

96 SC, yours truly has publically proposed on more than several occasions just such an encompassing transportation plan using the existing railroad rights of way as you suggest, all of course to no avail. Even though, such a plan has existed for quite some time under the guise of the Georgia Passenger Rail Authority which seems to have vanished.

Blog Soup

March 13th, 2010
8:40 am

“Some local officials worry that they’ll go without state transportation dollars if they don’t pass the sales tax. Others are concerned that state funding will skip the regions that do pass the tax, cheating those who tax themselves.”

Welcome to Blogsoup. If I look dazed and confused, it’s because I just imagined a milquetoast speaking the sentence above. Notice how this particular Poindexter confuses the reader with two different phrases that say the same thing. That’s how to double talk, folks. It’s not intended to confuse; instead, it’s style. Clyde made a quick calculation that it would read better if he altered the syntax that defined the idea of receiving funding from the state transportation agency that gives funding, and came up with that eye-crossingly posh coloraturra you were tortured with.

I understand why. The topic is boring. You want to entertain if you can. Transportation bills are a train wreck when it comes to prose. They are the poster child for ennui and Claude was afraid he’s force the reader to go full Rip Van Winkle.

Kyle has to understand that the reader has miles to go before his second cup of coffee and we skim and his capriciousness is a heavy price to pay for being stylish.

zzzzz

Over at Bob Barr, (and Bookman too), the Right is still manned by reactionary over-compensators. Every single pundit is trying to write Thomas Paine over every single event. Conservatives better pray Obama doesn’t lift his dog by the ears. That would make Beck self-flagellate on his show. (Why not? He’s already self-flatulating). Look, it’s almost Easter, can’t Beck reenact the Passion in an elevator with a plate of boiled cruciferous vegetables? Cruciferfy Him!! (sorry).

I’m only thinking of all the bipartisan ratings….

Moving on the Cynthia Tucker….you know, I’m jealous of DC now that we are all forced to share her. She was ours. You know? We grew up with her, right? There’ll never be another Cynthia. No way. Now I know that to communicate effectively across any forum, an author has to conform, constrain, and control word choices. I think KoKo the Gorilla had a larger vocabulary than all but a handful of the squatters who have paralyzed this board. Watching Cynthia evolve in this forum is the highest form of entertainment I know. It’s happening in real time with real mutants. I’m sorry, but this is the new must-see TV.

Blog Soup will return after these messages.

LA

March 13th, 2010
8:44 am

“I get so tired of you and people like you stating the majority of Americans don’t want health care reforms. That is because the majority of you have insurance.”

LOL

Yeah, people are losing their JOBS and therefore their insurance. Liberals are the DUMBEST people on the planet.

Why don’t you have some compassion and pay for your own health insurance. I for one don’t want to pay for you or anyone else. Be a grown on and GROW UP!

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
9:04 am

No new taxes, lets cut some old ones! NO NEW TAXES, LETS CUT SOME OLD ONES! Vote out anyone who votes for new taxes! VOTE OUT ANYONE WHO VOTES FOR NEW TAXES!

Road Scholar

March 13th, 2010
9:11 am

Kyle, OMG, the sky is falling!

Now concerning this bill:
Let’s remember that the state has a gas tax and it is distributed throughout the state. Recent years have a majority of the revenue spread to other parts of the state for GRIP and its debt service (It has been recently funded with bonds that have to be paid back- on the backs of our children…remember) and for bridge, capacity, operational and widening projects. GRIP consists of widening 2 lane state highways to 4 lane roads; the problem is that they have very little traffic, at grade intersections and were puported to spur development. Kyle, how is this rampant statewide development doing for you?

The areas suggested to date resemble the Regional Development Centers which already exist. RDC’s do regional planning, including transportation, and these put their priorities forward after working with the local governments in their areas. Within these areas are larger cities which have Metropolitan Planning Organizations, who perform local planning, including transportation, and they prioritize their projects based on need and revenue anticipated. Both use programs that examine level of service/congestion and air quality benefits in the air quality non attainment areas. Both the RDC’s and MPO’s are required under federal law; they opperate through input of ideas and federal and local funds from their member counties and cities.

So there is a planning structure available to research, define, test and prioritize projects based on need, cost, revenues, etc. Yes, some cities would get more projects…becauase that is where the most people and revenue are! Imagine that! A system built on need!

Regional roads like the Interstates should be handled by the State; Imagine if the local controlled them… they would have driveways between the interchanges spaced right next to each other!

Remember that the regional SPLOST is to AUGMENT the gas tax, not an only source! GDOT has been preparing an analysis tool which defines the project need relative to other projects so that they can be prioritized by NEED!Benefit /cost if you will. The only problem is the politicians, and their “when do I get to select projects” mentality.

So

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
9:14 am

I see the special interest group, the less than one half of one percent of the population that would use rail has already demanded that the remaining 99.5% of us pay for their expensive personal transportation. Hey clowns, does the fact that MARTA is failing not give you a clue, we do not need or want public transportation and we surely are not going to pay for it. Now git back to yankee land, we don’t want you here in Dixie. Darn carpet baggers, they ought to be hung.

SUBURBAN OVERLORD

March 13th, 2010
9:39 am

Kyle, there will be no transportation bill this year – maybe in 2012.

The Legislature’s south Georgia representatives won’t let anything pass unless it includes a 100 year payback for “all their transportation money that’s been sucked up by Atlanta.” Every academic or fiscal study shows that metro Atlanta sends at least 40 cents of every dollar it pays down south for good ol’ south Georgia pork (GRIP).

South Georgia has always hated metro Atlanta, with a psychosis so deep they invented a grand fable to support their sickness — they are the one’s being victimized by a greedy and amoral metro Atlanta. South Georgia’s leaders subconsciously replay the Civil War every legislative session, with metro Atlanta being the blue coated Yankees. This collective psychosis retards their development in important endeavors such as the arts, ethics, culture, industry, trade, education attainment.

zeke

March 13th, 2010
10:02 am

You cannot safely or efficiently operate passenger rail on freight rail lines! If any passenger rail system is established, hopefully not, it MUST BE ON DEDICATED RAIL LINES ONLY! Passenger rail in areas like Atlanta are USELESS, TOO EXPENSIVE, AND, ARE ONLY A MEANS OF WEALTH TRANFER! NO RAILS, NEVER, RID US OF MARTA, OR, SIMPLY SELL IT TO PRIVATE OWNERSHIP AND LET IT OPERATE EFFICIENTLY WITHOUT TAXPAYER SUBSIDY, OR DIE!

Scott

March 13th, 2010
10:13 am

If there is no transportation bill this year, you might as well start moving Roy Barnes back into the governor’s mansion. It will show that the republicans cannot effectively govern the state (something I believe to be true). Ideology doesn’t build transit. Concept 3 was a really great plan which would make Atlanta a world class city in terms of transit. It would be great if the Atlanta region could self tax, and its moronic that we cant. Something is going to have to change. If there is no transportation bill this year, there will be a “perfect storm” brewing against the legislators. Business leaders are fed up (hell they were fed up last year), and you are going to see some serious money spent to remove these clowns

Scott

March 13th, 2010
10:15 am

Well Zeke…I guess there isn’t much need for transit to commute back and forth under your rock…

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
10:48 am

“Be a grown on and GROW UP!”

LA – Enough already. Sheesh.

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
11:05 am

Equal time for Georgia to recover: Keep King Roy and the Democrats in exile for a hundred years.

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
11:13 am

Zeke – What public mass transportation system operates without
government subsidies or assistance ? Is there an example
you can point to ?

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
11:18 am

Blog Soup – What gives ?

The grammar in your post needs work.
You did catch some of the errors, though.

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
11:23 am

Tar and Feathers – 9:14 am – Your comments are WAY out of line.
Check the comment I left for LA, then check yourself.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
11:28 am

I have a solution to both the jobs problem and the transportation problem: The Rickshaw. We replace all the MARTA buses and trains with human powered RickShaws to move people around Atlanta. An idea whose time has come. I have long advised the young to work on their lower body strength, as it will serve them well in the future. Now, they can use those well developed leg muscles to pull a rickshaw. No need for an overpriced, virtually worthless college degree, just big leg muscles. And the young will sleep better, exhaustion is the best sleeping pill.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
11:30 am

JUST SAY NO TO RAIL!

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
11:33 am

We don’t need no arts crap you lazy carpet bagger, git out of Georgia before we tar, feather and ride you out on a rail (a non passenger carrying rail).

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
11:46 am

- “T and F party”:

RAIL is serious industry. RAIL brought steel and trade jobs to the South.
RAIL is what some politicians in both parties use to campaign across the
country. RAIL is what the military uses to transport weapons, ammo, and
vehicles of war to seaports for overseas deployment.

In fact, the only thing that’s LAZY is the work you put towards
your opinions in this forum.

BTW, do you consider country music to be “arts crap” ?

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
11:59 am

What public mass transportation system operates without government subsidies or assistance ?

The statement is bit rhetorical isn’t it? The word public does mean government does it not?

Call public mass transit what it truly is: Welfare Transportation or vice-versa.

I would support a Private-Public statewide rapid rail system, which would be owned and operated by a private sector for profit entity under “state oversight”. No free riders and fees would truly reflect actual cost in the fares charged. No doubt it would preclude a union.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
12:01 pm

Yo dipstart: We already got enough rail transportation for goods, provided by the PRIVATE SECTOR, what we do not need or want is passenger rail provided by the GUVIMENT clowns.

AF

March 13th, 2010
12:25 pm

We are afraid of new ideas. Everybody can come up with reasons why they won’t work but nobody, including in particular the nay-sayer Mr. Wingfield, seems to have a better idea. I would rather have our legislators try new approaches than to sit back in befuddlement doing nothing about things they know are problems.

I would like to see regions formed to determine transportation projects within the region and the gasoline tax increased. There will ALWAYS be politics in transportation project decisions – lets just get those decisions closer to home. And, let those decisions be based on the needs of the region, not the state and not the individual county.

Finally, we need to be careful of how many special purpose sales taxes we enact. The schools have special purpose taxes, park land purchase, roads, there is a loud group of people who want to replace the income tax with a sales tax. We talk of one program adding 1% and that doesn’t sound too bad. But, when you add up all the programs that depend on sales tax, we will soon be talking about taxes that will be impossible for lower income families to survive.

IN addition, I wonder why those very conservative politicians who keep mouthing any public good as “socialism” don’t see that it is this so-called “socialism” that funds schools, roads, and a whole lot more in very poor Georgia counties.

And, while we are talking about taxes, Sonny’s idea to tax hospitals more is just about the stupidest thing that has come out of his mouth.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
12:40 pm

public schools are pretty worthless, just look at the third rate performance of American students vs foreign students.

DannyX

March 13th, 2010
12:47 pm

The state of Georgia provides more subsidies for private rail lines than it does for MARTA. Much more.

Cobb and Gwinnett transit systems both receive more money from the state than Marta. Much more.

Delta Airlines is showered with gifts from the state. They don’t pay any fuel tax!

And if you use Michael S Smith’s method for funding, rural areas in Georgia would be driving on dirt roads.

Mason Hicks

March 13th, 2010
12:49 pm

Kyle,
I for one am delighted that you seem to understand the ramifications of regression. Your predecessor certainly did not. The likes of some of the writers before me exemplifies the problem that the more sensible of those who share your political stripes will have to face, when dealing with the real problems of the state when trying to maintain relevance in a world that will not remain stationary. These de-railers refuse to see beyond their own barbed-wire fences. They speak loudly, angrily, and with much contempt for those who attempt to address the state’s real transportation problems at what they conceive to be their solitary expense. As one writer put it, they are still trying to fight the Civil War.
One writer referred to the Concept3 Master Plan. This plan was devised with a great spirit of cooperation among leaders who were able to look beyond the boundaries of their parties’ ideology, and work with people who see issues very differently then they do. Together, they developed a plan, that while not perfect, took tremendous strides in defining a useful transportation plan that should be able to serve Metro Atlanta and even the rest of Georgia very well for the next half century. This will happen only if our state leadership has the political courage and the will to face up to these who either don’t understand or couldn’t care less about the condition of our statewide mobility. If they do not succeed, Georgia will continue the into its relevancy abyss. We will then get to watch cities like Charlotte, Nashville, and Jacksonville gain the prominence that Atlanta once enjoyed. Georgia’s rural regions will get to know the continued unemployment and economic stagnation of last generation rural Mississippi, while the rest of the Southeast recovers and prospers following this current recession.
Georgia needs great leadership from both sides to deal with the seemingly overwhelming problems of today, This is a time to look beyond the fear and anger, and to get to work.

Mason Hicks

March 13th, 2010
12:51 pm

Apologies for several typos in my previous comments.

Mason Hicks

March 13th, 2010
12:52 pm

Apologies for some typos in my previous post…

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
12:53 pm

Mason Hicks – Great post.

T and F – You’re one to talk about “third rate performance”
of schools, considering your posts in this forum.

dewstarpath

March 13th, 2010
12:57 pm

DannyX – Great point about regional transportation in Cobb
and Gwinnett, which happen to be metro Atlanta’s two
“tech corridors” when it comes to jobs.

AF

March 13th, 2010
1:14 pm

Tar and Feather at 12:40: “public schools are pretty worthless, just look at the third rate performance of American students vs foreign students.”

I beg to differ. My child went to public schools and did great. The difference may have been that I value education and taught her to value education. I went to every parent/teacher meeting, worked with her on homework, joined car-pools for transporting her to band practice. She got some scholarships to go to college but I paid thousands every year. She now has a masters and I am done with my part in educating my child. In other words, I was an involved parent.

Not as involved as many others, to whom I owe a debt. I worked full time and supported her as a single parent. Many parents didn’t work or were simply more organized than I was and their involvement helped my child, too.

The point is, the schools are fine. There are great teachers out there and a few not so good ones. It is the parents who make the difference.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
1:56 pm

AF: is you masters degree daughter currently gainfully employed in her chosen field, or is she working outside her field in a job that does not require a college education? I bet she is not in the sciences, or engineering. My betting is social work, because you sound too much like a social worker. If your child does not take 4 years of math in high school, then the diploma is worthless. Can’t count equals can’t think in my book. Now lets git back to bashing that money pit called passenger rail.

DannyX

March 13th, 2010
2:06 pm

Tar, your 1:56 is the strangest rebuttal I have seen. What the heck are you talking about?

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
2:11 pm

It is over your head Danny boy, it is over your head.

retiredds

March 13th, 2010
2:40 pm

Kyle, maybe you can enlighten me on this. It is my understanding that the Atlanta Area gets shortchanged on the gasoline tax. It seems, and I could be wrong on this so please correct if I am, but for every dollar that is collected by virtue of the gas tax the Atlanta Area gets about 90 cents and the more rural areas get about 1.10. This disparity is supposed to make up for their lower tax bases. Have I got my fact right?

Mason Hicks

March 13th, 2010
2:59 pm

I have to second “Danny X” on his challenge to T and F’s 1:53. That response was not over DannyX’s head, my head, or even my dog’s head. It’s just ignorant. “T & F Party was trying to make wild assuption about someone whom he (apologies for assuming gender…) doesn’t even know who she is. That is the very definition of ingorant. But after reading his other post, why does that not surprize me?

Mason Hicks

March 13th, 2010
3:11 pm

DannyX,
He’s a real whacko. That response, wasn’t over your head, my head, or anyone else’s head. He was making wild assumptions about someone whom he (forgive the gender assumption…) has no idea of even who she is… That’s nothing but ignorance.

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
3:50 pm

Face it dummy, the girl is an idiot with a masters…git on with bashing passenger rail, and let the ignorant social workers lie, and lie and lie…

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
3:51 pm

What kind of idiot names its child “Mason?”

BPJ

March 13th, 2010
3:54 pm

Tar & Feathers probably doesn´t know that those “foreign students” mostly go to public schools. (Let´s don´t tell him; it would cause ideological brain freeze.)

The Tar and Feathers Party

March 13th, 2010
3:56 pm

bpj is too stupid to realize that foreign students in the usa taking world tests are counted as American and raise our otherwise lower score.

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
4:05 pm

Using DannyXYZ’s method, the one Democrats used for over a hundred years in this State, is the very reason why people in rural counties of Georgia still to this day drive on dirt roads! :lol:

Michael H. Smith

March 13th, 2010
4:41 pm

those “foreign students” mostly go to public schools.

If those “foreign students” were given the same opportunity in this country as they have in Europe where education dollars fund the student and not the government education monopoly school system, then they would mostly not go to public schools. Especially if they are from Europe where they score higher on international tests compared to their U.S. student contemporaries.

Amazing how SOCIALIST Europe is trying to emulate the once individual liberty and capitalist markets of the U.S., while the U.S. now tries to become like another SOCIALIST Europe: GUB’MENT Schools, Transportation, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Banking, Housing, Energy and the never ending list goes on and on and on…

vuduchld

March 13th, 2010
4:47 pm

LA

Have you ever lost health insurance before? Must not because your previous statement about ” liberals growing up” fits you to a T. I have have been without health insurance twice and I can tell you it’s no picnic. Why don’t idiots like you try it, no, you don’t have the courage to, so we won’t go there. It’s people like you who are just lemmings and chicken feed to Tea Begger monkeys and other near-do-wells who find bogus reasons not to sovle problems. Bottom feeders like you and the G no P love to whine and bitch about “ObamaCare” but have ZERO ideas or alternatives, you just want the same old song and dance.

I hate to wish ill on anyone, but I would love peple like yourself to be without health insurance. Think you can do it. Nope, I know you can’t because you’re a weak, meek, spineless subhuman being without a clue. So rant on my friend becaise at the end of the day the ObamaCare will get done with or without idiots like you.