It seems like a no-brainer. But those cases often make brains hurt the most.
Commuters along I-75 northwest of Atlanta want relief from traffic congestion. The state owns a railroad line that runs from Atlanta through the downtowns of Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth. It’s double-tracked most of the way, meaning there’s room for freight and passenger rail alike.
Make a few modifications, buy some train cars, and a commuter rail service for Cobb could be up and running within a few years — for a tiny fraction of the money that a 1 percent sales tax for transportation, or T-SPLOST, is forecast to provide if voters approve it next year.
Instead, transit planners want to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more to build a lower-capacity light rail line. Which wouldn’t be completed for more than a decade. And which, even when finished, wouldn’t go beyond Cumberland Mall. To reach Acworth would take another decade and nearly $2 billion more, from a source