HOT lanes reversal reflects lack of vision, leadership for transportation in Georgia

If there’s one thing I’m sick of hearing, it’s that metro Atlanta and Georgia have no “plan B” for transportation. That’s because, increasingly, there’s no “plan A,” either.

The latest example is the Department of Transportation’s decision this past week to abort the optional toll lanes on I-75 and I-575 in Cobb and Cherokee.

Some 200,000 commuters travel that corridor daily. The stretch of 75 between the 575 split and the top-end perimeter is one of the most congested highways in metro Atlanta. Yet, here’s what those commuters will have to show for years of DOT planning for toll lanes and the politicized exercise of drafting a project list for next year’s transportation tax referendum:

Jack. And squat.

A real plan for the corridor — and most of what I’m about to say also applies to other parts of the metro area — would:

a) Recognize there is neither the land nor the money available for building highway lanes ad infinitum, and that new general-purpose lanes quickly become as full as the older lanes;

b) Acknowledge the final piece of the Interstate portion of the corridor comprises high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that may or may not relieve congestion in older lanes, but which will guarantee someone who needs to travel rapidly at a given time can do so (for a price);

c) Devote more resources to nearby arterial roads to add parallel capacity for motorists, particularly those traveling relatively shorter distances;

d) Ensure any funds for mass transit are dedicated to uses such as commuter rail, which can provide high capacity at peak travel times without attempting to change lifestyles or prioritize developers’ dreams over commuters’ frustrations.

As of today, Cobb and Cherokee residents stand to get no additional general-purpose lanes, no HOT lanes, no enhanced arterials. Just some projects designed to encourage a certain kind of economic development — somewhere else. Oh, and, in about 10 years, a glorified streetcar that travels one mile outside Fulton.

It’s particularly galling that DOT has now spent eight years and tens of millions of dollars clearing its throat regarding public-private partnerships. Now it’s thrown all that away, without betraying the faintest clue as to what comes next.

The coup de grace came from DOT board member Brandon Beach, who told the AJC’s Ariel Hart that a turning point was the realization the state might have to pay up to 45 percent of the project’s $1 billion cost.

“There gets a point where if you’re going to do that much public participation, you may want to look at doing the project yourself,” Beach said, right before admitting DOT doesn’t have that kind of money.

Let’s get this straight: $450 million is too much money, so it’s better to spend $1 billion? A billion dollars we don’t have? So that we can recoup money from tolls instead of … not spending it in the first place?

For, if the private firms felt they couldn’t recoup more than $550 million in costs from tolls, why should we believe the state would recoup more? As it stands, fat chance of enticing them or other firms to invest in our infrastructure in the future.

We often hear politicians and experts say voters must approve the T-SPLOST so that metro Atlanta isn’t seen as backward and indecisive. After these follies, on the heels of the broken promise to remove the Ga. 400 toll last summer, maybe voters need to reject it — to get the attention of those politicians and experts. Their decisiveness and vision leave a lot to be desired, too.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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320 comments Add your comment

Puck

December 16th, 2011
6:37 pm

Just as soon as a way is found to privatize the profit and socialize the risk, the private-public partnership will return.

Hillbilly D

December 16th, 2011
6:40 pm

The plan has always been develop, develop, develop, worry about the rest later. They ain’t learned a thing in 40 years or more.

bu2

December 16th, 2011
6:46 pm

The whole metro area lacks a vision on transportation. Some believe traffic will just go away. Others believe you can spend billions to help real estate developers and that will somehow force people out of their cars. There needs to be a coherent realistic plan that is then sold to the public, not just a multi-million $ project for the consultants that gets shelved and ignored.

While I agree freeway lanes can’t be added forever, Atlanta is very far from that point. Look at what Houston and Dallas have done and are doing. The, “oh it just fills up” is just an excuse for continuing to do nothing, or the argument for the people who believe they can and should force everyone into mass transit.

carlosgvv

December 16th, 2011
7:09 pm

And (E) realize you are in The State of Georgia and we are not in last place for nothing – we work for it!!!!!

michele

December 16th, 2011
7:35 pm

The traffic jam in Georgia could be solved by removing that confounded center divide in all the expressways. That takes up space for at least six more lanes, man.

Also they need to tear down Spaghetti Junction. I mean, think of all the lives that were lost just building the damn thing, not to mention the billions of dollars wasted during the construction and maintenance of it. I mean, I could have accomplished the same improvement in the flow of traffic there simply by putting up a yield sign, man. Thirty six bucks, and presto! Traffic moves sweet.

Sweet!

D Right One

December 16th, 2011
7:56 pm

Can’t build lanes forever. And no one wants trains at least not in Gwinnett. Maybe flying cars? Hmm, even on the Jetsons there were traffic jams.

Hillbilly D

December 16th, 2011
8:07 pm

If you think Spaghetti Junction is bad, you should have seen what was there before they built it.

Victor

December 16th, 2011
8:25 pm

Just destroy the economy, people will leave and traffic will be fine….oh, that happened already…..geez

I Report (-: You Whine )-: Thee Magnificent!!! mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

December 16th, 2011
8:37 pm

If only the 99% would learn to fetch their drugs after rush hour was over, just sayin…

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
10:09 pm

bu2

December 16th, 2011
6:46 pm

Your post describes the situation dead-on. Including the access lanes that carry local traffic and run along both sides of the Interstate, there are sections of I-10 on the westside of Houston that have up to 26 lanes!

Houston has taken a road-heavy approach in investing in their transportation infrastructure by building and widening their freeways to the maximum where ever possible.

Meanwhile Dallas, while still making much, much, much heavier investments in their road infrastructure than Atlanta has made in over 20 years, has taken a more balanced approach investing heavily in toll roads, light rail and commuter rail. Dallas now has 106 miles of rail transit lines compared to Atlanta’s 48 miles of rail transit lines.

There would be nothing wrong with taking Houston’s approach and building and widening our freeways to the max where possible, a strategy that would include stacking roads vertically where there is no more right-of-way to widen the road horizonally and the building of an outer perimeter loop to divert heavy trucks and interstate traffic away from the densely-populated urban core where local traffic is the heaviest.

The only problem is that there seems to be virtually ZERO political appetite amongst voters and taxpayers to pursue a maximum roadbuilding strategy as was demonstrated when the state proposed to build an Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc bypass back in the late 1990s and early 2000s and when the state proposed to widen I-75 to 24-26 lanes as part of the original HOT lanes/bus rapid transit proposal back in 2005.

The Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc and original I-75 HOT lane proposals where met with much public derision and disapproval, so much to the point that the terms “Outer Perimeter” and “Northern Arc” are politically radioactive around the State Capitol with not one legislator in Georgia’s dominant ruling GOP daring to even mention the term after the long-ruling Democrats were thrown out of power in part for backing the a scaled down Outer Perimeter in the form of the “Northern Arc”, a road which was ill-advisedly proposed to run through affluent country club communities full of very powerful lawyers and voters in the Golden Crescent of Forsyth and Cherokee Counties.

Gwinnett Dave

December 16th, 2011
10:11 pm

All de folks down he’a jus don like dem trains. Ya know, all the crimnals use dem and you’d haf ta take my steerin’ wheel outa my cold hands afta I’m ded befor I let dem librals extend MARTA! So wat if Charlotte is gettin trains. It’s NOTH Carolina, right? An dont tell me bout how low Gawga’s tes scores are! We down he’a don care what ya think! Qualty of life, trains, and urban plannin is for does d–n libral tree huggurs an ovreducated commies nut good caplists lik us. Heck, Deetroit had no trains an its

Gwinnett Dave

December 16th, 2011
10:14 pm

jus fine. Y’all jus shut up and les get back to buildn stuff an spreadin out. Ye Ha!

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
10:17 pm

Hillbilly D

December 16th, 2011
8:07 pm

“If you think Spaghetti Junction is bad, you should have seen what was there before they built it.”

I remember very well the poorly planned and designed convoluted cloverleaf interchanges that existed where both Spaghetti Junction (I-85/285 NE) and the Cobb Cloverleaf (I-75/285 NW) are now. As bad as both of those interchanges are now, the ancient cloverleafs and the four-lane roads they fed were much, much, MUCH WORSE.

Gwinnett Dave

December 16th, 2011
10:24 pm

Hey, Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights? is right on. Dallas is full of dem idiot librals an train nuts. We need unutha perimter so’s we can spred out mor! An da h-ll with Atlanta – we don need it anymor an its a pain. Les be lik Deetroit and furget the stupid city and live happy in the subburbs!

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
10:28 pm

D Right One

December 16th, 2011
7:56 pm

“Can’t build lanes forever. And no one wants trains at least not in Gwinnett.”

Gwinnettians will accept trains, they just don’t want to pay into MARTA now and maybe get train and bus service like 15 years from now, at the earliest, as they have been told would be the case by MARTA itself, if Gwinnettians decided to tax themselves to pay for MARTA.

Why should Gwinnettians pay for service now that they are not necessarily even likely to get years later?

MARTA as it is currently constituted now has too many issues to even be considered for expansion outside of Fulton and DeKalb Counties.

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
10:39 pm

“Gwinnettians will accept trains, they just don’t want to pay into MARTA now and maybe get train and bus service like 15 years from now, at the earliest, as they have been told would be the case by MARTA itself,”
You mean like the people of Dekalb and Fulton Counties did?

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
10:48 pm

“Acknowledge the final piece of the Interstate portion of the corridor comprises high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes that may or may not relieve congestion in older lanes, but which will guarantee someone who needs to travel rapidly at a given time can do so (for a price)”
No doubt because they’ve been so sucessful in Gwinnett County

Lee

December 16th, 2011
10:48 pm

“HOT lanes reversal reflects lack of vision…”

Or maybe they witnessed the HOT fiasco on I-85 and recognized a clusterf__k when they saw it.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
10:51 pm

“d) Ensure any funds for mass transit are dedicated to uses such as commuter rail, which can provide high capacity at peak travel times without attempting to change lifestyles or prioritize developers’ dreams over commuters’ frustrations.”

I completely agree that implementing commuter rail on existing tracks in the corridors that parallel major interstate and freeway spokes should likely be the top priority at this point, especially seeing as though much of the freeway system in Metro Atlanta is built-out, not just physically with the lack of right-of-way available to widen the freeways, but also financially and politically as there just doesn’t seem to be much, if any, of an appetite by the public on the whole for a massive freeway widening project that would be a 21st Century version of the “Freeing-the-Freeways” redesign and widening project of the 1980s.

Because of the flat topography and wide pre-existing treeless right-of-ways lining the roads in Texas, widening the roads are a pretty easy proposition in Texas. But because of the hilly, sub mountainous heavily-wooded terrain in North Georgia in which many freeways feature thick, tree-lined parkway-like “buffers”, any substantial widening of the freeway network at this point is very difficult to accomplish politically.

Both the I-85 Northeast Corridor where HOV lanes have been converted to HOT lanes, and the I-75/575 Northwest Corridor, where additional HOT lanes are proposed, have existing freight rail lines paralleling them that could be adapted to accommodate high-frequency commuter rail lines.

The proposals are already on the books, it’s just that there has been no leadership in helping to bring them into fruition:

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/travelingingeorgia/rail/Documents/CommuterRailMap.pdf

http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Documents/railroad/nga_passenger.pdf

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
11:00 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
10:39 pm

“You mean like the people of Dekalb and Fulton Counties did?”

Fulton and DeKalb Counties ALREADY have train and bus service from MARTA (bus service since 1972, train service since 1979). Gwinnettians were told at a town hall meeting in 2008 that the county would not receive bus or train service for at least 15 years if they were to agree to pay the same 1% sales tax that Fulton & DeKalb already pay.

What would be the purpose of paying taxes now and not getting service until close to 2030? Why would any community agree to that when their traffic problem is going on RIGHT NOW?

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:05 pm

Umm, the folks of Dekalb and Fulton paid for at least 15 years before they saw a train.

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:10 pm

There is bus service in Gwinett. Not they they are taxing themselves one percent to have it.
Why should they connect into Dekalb train service, when Dekalb has been paying one percent for the past 41 years?

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:12 pm

Atlanta Mom is right, Dekalb and Fulton counties started collecting revenue for MARTA before its construction.

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:18 pm

Anyway, gasoline will never be cheap again, and most of the morons who post here are indicative of the Georgia population–in total denial about energy. Yeah, build more lanes. Great foresight–5 decades ago. Make I-75 20+ lanes wide. No one will be able to afford gas to commute by then, but they’ll be the world’s best bike paths.

Morons, the only thing that’s going to alleviate traffic and make commutes bearable is public transportation. And people here still think criminals are going to ride the train to the suburbs, then steal your tv, and ride back home with it on the train.

I can’t wait for $6/gallon gas. I want to see you suburbanites squeal like piggies for trains and buses that you steadfastly opposed for generations. You’re already decades late to the game, but there’s hope for you yet. But it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:21 pm

And perhaps why Marta has such a difficult time:
“MARTA has never received any operational funding from the State of Georgia, making it the largest public transportation agency in the United States…not to receive state/provincial funding for operational expenses”. (wikipedia).

Michel Phillips

December 16th, 2011
11:25 pm

(1) Abolish all taxes except motor fuel tax. (2) Raise motor fuel tax enough to cover expenses of all state and local government. (3) People will find a way to work close to home and drive a lot less. Congestion problem solved. And maybe the ice caps won’t melt.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
11:26 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:05 pm

“Umm, the folks of Dekalb and Fulton paid for at least 15 years before they saw a train.”

Not necessarily true as it pertains to MARTA. Fulton and DeKalb Counties started paying the 1% sales tax to fund MARTA in 1971 and started getting bus service in 1972 the next year. The first MARTA trains went into service in 1979, only eight years after Fulton and DeKalb started paying sales taxes to fund MARTA.

Also, Gwinnett residents were told that it would at least 15 years before they MIGHT receive either BUS or train service.

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:27 pm

Oh god, the HOT lanes were hilarious. Expect more of the same when you think the private sector will come rescue you. It’s like when Wile E. Coyote pulls his ripcord and an anvil or piano comes out of his parachute pack.

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:29 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

December 16th, 2011
11:26 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:05 pm

“Umm, the folks of Dekalb and Fulton paid for at least 15 years before they saw a train.”

Not necessarily true as it pertains to MARTA. Fulton and DeKalb Counties started paying the 1% sales tax to fund MARTA in 1971 and started getting bus service in 1972 the next year. The first MARTA trains went into service in 1979, only eight years after Fulton and DeKalb started paying sales taxes to fund MARTA.

Also, Gwinnett residents were told that it would at least 15 years before they MIGHT receive either BUS or train service.

Congrats on using Wikipedia.

But, expect to pay before you can play, just like Fulton and Dekalb residents did.

Isn’t that what you conservatives are all about? Paying for your share and personal responsibility? And you hate spending money you don’t have?

Put your money where your mouth is, sucker.

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:30 pm

Michel Phillips

December 16th, 2011
11:25 pm

(1) Abolish all taxes except motor fuel tax. (2) Raise motor fuel tax enough to cover expenses of all state and local government. (3) People will find a way to work close to home and drive a lot less. Congestion problem solved. And maybe the ice caps won’t melt.

With such a robust local housing market, this is a surefire plan!

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
11:37 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:10 pm

“There is bus service in Gwinett. Not [that] they are taxing themselves one percent to have it.”

Actually, Gwinnett residents are being taxed to pay for bus service through PROPERTY TAXES. Gwinnett residents may not pay a sales tax to help fund MARTA service that they do not directly receive, but property owners do pay into Gwinnett County Transit with their property taxes, a funding setup that admittedly is NOT very popular with said property owners who under utilize the bus service.

“Why should they connect into Dekalb train service, when Dekalb has been paying one percent for the past 41 years?”

Because just like Fulton and DeKalb residents pay a 1% sales tax to fund MARTA, Gwinnett (and Cobb) residents pay hundreds and even thousands-of-dollars in property taxes each year to fund GCT and CCT, respectively. GCT and CCT may be funded with different taxes, but like MARTA, they are still funded with taxes.

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:43 pm

Gwinett property taxes don’t come close to Dekalb or Fulton.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
11:45 pm

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:29 pm

“But, expect to pay before you can play, just like Fulton and Dekalb residents did.”

For the most part, except for a few loud holdouts, and contrary to popular ITP belief, Gwinnett and Cobb residents don’t really have any qualms about paying to have access to transit, whether through sales taxes, user fees or a (user fee-heavy) combination of both if they were to at least receive bus service very soon (as in the next year) after paying sales taxes for it as opposed to waiting two decades to receive it when the traffic problem is right here, right now, today.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 16th, 2011
11:48 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:43 pm

“Gwinett property taxes don’t come close to Dekalb or Fulton.”

And neither does the bus service. Have you ever rode one of their buses or even been on their website. Except for a few reasonably well-placed commuter/express routes, Gwinnett County Transit is about as bare-bones as you can get.

ND

December 16th, 2011
11:48 pm

Not having HOT lanes isn’t what reflects a lack of vision. Living 60 miles away from the city and expecting your commute not to be a pain in the butt is what reflects a lack of vision. If you choose to live in Canton or Kennesaw and you work in Atlanta, you deserve to sit in traffic. Keep transportation funds inside the perimeter where they belong.

Alexander

December 16th, 2011
11:50 pm

The “who’s gonna grease my pocket” crowd at the Capitol have ignored the solutions for nearly 40 years,but the last 10 are inexcusable given what everybody now knows. Road are subsidized so that is not an argument against rail. But our shortsightedness fails to accept that neighborhoods will grow around transportation and that growth takes time. The guys legislators who took thosebigcontributions from the privatisers should have been reading Alex Marahall’s “how cities work”
In the book, Marshall tackles in this hard-hitting, highly readable look at what makes cities work. Marshall argues that urban life has broken down because of our basic ignorance of the real forces that shape cities-transportation systems, industry and business, and political decision making. He explores how these forces have built four very different

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:57 pm

Millage rates for county only operations are as follows. Remember, the good folks of Fulton and Dekalb pay an additional one percent sales tax for the luxury of having public transportation-such as it is. You have to pay to dance people.
Cobb 7.2
Dekalb 19.4
Fulton 10.28
Gwinnett 11.78
Info for 2011 from https://etax.dor.ga.gov/ptd/cds/csheets/LGS_Georgia_County_Ad_Valorem_Tax_Digest_Millage_Rates_by_Taxing_Jurisdiction_PTSR006OD_2011.pdf
Nite all.

Alexander

December 16th, 2011
11:58 pm

How about a column on Charlotte and Phoenix. They are a decade ahead of Atlanta with light rail thanks to the contrarian policies of our former state executive who’s dislike of The Atlanta region should cause Atlantans and those in the metro area to question their decision to elect him.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
12:10 am

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 16th, 2011
11:29 pm

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?…..

December 16th, 2011
11:26 pm

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:05 pm

But, expect to pay before you can play, just like Fulton and Dekalb residents did.

“Isn’t that what you conservatives are all about? Paying for your share and personal responsibility? And you hate spending money you don’t have?”

For the record, I’m an INDEPENDENT, NOT a conservative in the truest, most socially traditional sense, far from it, in fact, especially socially. I just grew tired of party politics, rigid ideology and the built-in hypocrisy that goes with it.

“Put your money where your mouth is, sucker.”

No need for the hostility as I am more than willing to pay to fund increased access to better transit options throughout the region, but with USER FEES instead of sales or property taxes.

I’ll even spectulate that I’m willing to pay more than you as a trip on BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) in Northern California from one end of the system to the other and to premium locations (like the airport, tourist attractions, etc) costs $11.00 ($10.90 to be exact) ONE-WAY while the same trip on MARTA costs only $2.50 one-way.

Instead of funding an increasingly barebones transit service by trying to hold down fares and being overly-dependent on an increasingly inadequate 1% sales tax, why not just increase the fare structure and fund much improved more extensive increased service by raising the base fare to at least $3.00 one-way and instituting a zone-pricing system that charges more the farther you ride and according to how much certain stops are used?

Wanna be the most fair? Abolish the 1% sales tax and just fund increased and expanded service with user fees in the form of an adequately increased fare structure that could actually help to fund the better service that is critically needed in this increasingly mobility-challenged region.

GUNGA DIN

December 17th, 2011
12:11 am

one of the major problems is the fiasco that is GDOT. can’t trust that they will not waste the money or do what they promise. just look at the toll situation on 400. also how can you justify $60 million dollars on a feasibility study. sounds like Moreland-Altobelli really stuck it to the state!!

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 17th, 2011
12:31 am

lol user fees

Just come out and say you hate poor non-whites and want to shift more of the burden onto them and we’ll call it a night. :D

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
1:09 am

ND

December 16th, 2011
11:48 pm

“Not having HOT lanes isn’t what reflects a lack of vision. Living 60 miles away from the city and expecting your commute not to be a pain in the butt is what reflects a lack of vision. If you choose to live in Canton or Kennesaw and you work in Atlanta, you deserve to sit in traffic. Keep transportation funds inside the perimeter where they belong.”

Saying that people should be punished because they live outside the Perimeter is about as realistic of a transportation policy as those who live OTP saying they don’t want rail transit because it will bring crime from the city when the crime is already there OTP in an overwhelming abundance via people who own cars (see Gwinnett’s continuing festering problem with Latin American and international drug cartels).

A region that is Atlanta’s size is such a jobs magnet that one can expect to see people who live 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 miles, etc commuting to and from work on a daily basis, especially when home prices and the cost-of-living increase with the corresponding rise in population growth. Heck, in cities like L.A. and N.Y. it is not at all uncommon to see people with one-way commutes of up to 100 miles each day.

In N.Y. and L.A. you will also hear the term “drive-until-you-qualify” where people will literally get on the freeway and drive out of the city until they reach an exit where they can afford to buy a home. The lower your income, the farther you drive in L.A. In N.Y., it may be the lower your income, the farther you ride on a train.

Another thing is that transit-dependent/transit-heavy cities like N.Y., Boston, D.C., Philadelphia and even extremely transit-heavy Toronto, still sprawl outwards, it’s just that they sprawl outwards on commuter rail lines as their road networks can no longer support being anchors for development. With a VERY inadequate, undersized and discombobulated road network that is based largely on an ancient network of Indian trails, one can infer that Atlanta has likely reached this same point as other more mature cities before it have reached (even car-crazy L.A. reached this point in the late 1990s as the L.A. Basin reached build-out just before the year 2000).

With the Atlanta Region more than doubling in population from 2.9 million in 1990 to over 5.8 million in 2010, a growth rate of more than 100% in that 20-year span, the Atlanta Region has reached the point where it can no longer grow or “sprawl” on an increasingly inadequate road network that there is virtually ZERO meaningful political will to expand. A road network that is attempting to handle more than twice the population it was ever meant to handle.

For the Atlanta Region to continue to have meaningful growth it is going to have to invest, HEAVILY, in its passenger rail and mass transit network (bus, heavy rail, light rail and ESPECIALLY commuter rail), a reality that will be forced with the coming massive expansion of the Port of Savannah which threatens to dramatically increase automobile traffic on Metro Atlanta freeways by more than a third by the end of the decade (especially already very heavy freight truck traffic on I-75, I-285 & I-20).

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 17th, 2011
1:22 am

Key difference, people who live 30+ miles outside of the city typically choose to. Atlanta’s not as big nor densely developed as the larger cities you mention–you don’t have to go that far outside of the city for affordable housing as you do in LA and the northeast. So let them cry all they want about their commutes and gas–they brought it on themselves.

itpdude

December 17th, 2011
1:26 am

I like the idea of having additional lanes put in for either a toll or high occupancy vehicles, even if an HOV is only 2 people.

But it also needs to be done in conjunction with rail if we want Atlanta to be viable in a future for business.

As far as the public/private partnerships go. . . . well, I’m skeptical because there seem to be so many backroom deals made in such arrangements.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
1:27 am

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 17th, 2011
12:31 am

“lol user fees…..Just come out and say you hate poor non-whites and want to shift more of the burden onto them and we’ll call it a night.”

Are you saying that MARTA is only intended to serve primarily poor non-whites? That’s the problem…How can anyone expect suburban whites in Gwinnett and Cobb Counties to want to pay a sales tax to fund an increasingly barebones transit service that is aimed at only serving poor non-whites in Fulton and DeKalb Counties who can’t afford to drive? That mindset right there reflects a severe and critical lack-of-vision on transportation in this region.

This region is in critical need of a transit network that aims to serve more low-income and homeless riders who can’t afford cars as it is the people with the cars that are clogging up the highways on a daily basis.

There is no way that a 1% sales tax and a very limited fare structure can help to fund the extensive transit system that this region critically needs to take cars off of gridlocked roads. Gridlocked roads that are soon to be overwhelmed with a tsunami of increased freight truck traffic coming from a dramatically expanded Port of Savannah.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
1:44 am

itpdude

December 17th, 2011
1:26 am

“I like the idea of having additional lanes put in for either a toll or high occupancy vehicles, even if an HOV is only 2 people…..But it also needs to be done in conjunction with rail if we want Atlanta to be viable in a future for business.”

EXACTLY! Ideally, a comprehensive plan for passenger rail should have been enacted in conjunction with the completion of the “Freeing-the-Freeways” project of the 1980s. But hindsight is 20-20 and it is likely that at that time between 25-30 years ago those in state government, especially inside of GDOT, thought that roads would be the only meaningful mode of transportation OTP forever.

I also doubt that anyone in state government at that time ever looked far enough into the future to envision a time when the region’s freeway network would be virtually built-out or ever seriously expected the region’s population to reach six million people, especially at road-crazy, roads-only GDOT.

Well, it looks like we have reached the point in time where the region’s freeways are effectively built-out with very little physical right-of-way or, most importantly, political will or public desire to expand them.

Since there is very little public appetite to expand the road network to the extent that it would need to be expanded to handle more traffic, Houston-style, the only way that this town can proceed forward is to competently invest more in rail transit, especially since we have likely reached the point where no more toll-free lanes are going to be added to the freeway network.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
2:17 am

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 17th, 2011
1:22 am

“Key difference, people who live 30+ miles outside of the city typically choose to. Atlanta’s not as big nor densely developed as the larger cities you mention”

Well, the Atlanta Region as a whole is virtually as big, land area-wise, with a land-area of over 8,000 square miles (an area that is larger than six separate states) and a regional population of just under six million people that places Atlanta in a class with Washington D.C., Boston and Philadelphia.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
2:49 am

BILLY MAYS HERE

December 17th, 2011
1:22 am

“–you don’t have to go that far outside of the city for affordable housing as you do in LA and the northeast.”

People (newcomers and transplants) may not have to go that far outside of the city for affordable housing, but they do have to go farther outside of the city for public schools that are perceived to be of much higher quality as many parents either don’t or can’t (and won’t) pay to send their children to private schools.

Real or perceived quality of an area’s public schools is a major reason that a lot of new residents may choose to locate in outlying counties like Gwinnett, Cobb (East Cobb), Douglas, Paulding, Cherokee, North Fulton, Forsyth, Hall, Fayette, Henry, Coweta, etc, as opposed to the City of Atlanta, DeKalb and Clayton Counties.

“So let them cry all they want about their commutes and gas–they brought it on themselves.”

Attempting to punish people for their living choices is neither a sound nor realistic transportation planning policy for doing so would send an extremely shortsighted and unfortunate message that the Atlanta Region and the state of Georgia refuses to constructively deal with its transportation issues out of a misguided spite to its own citizens while other (competing) areas around the country are actively continuing to deal with theirs.

Don’t want to build any roads and rail lines to serve people who choose to live outside of I-285, fine, be my guest. But don’t get upset a few years down the line when the city and the region continues to attract low-income and low-skilled transplants with no jobs to absorb them and the city and the region cannot attract the high-paying professional jobs and the highly-paid, college-educated and highly-skilled professionals who come with those jobs who buy real estate and contribute to the area’s tax base and local economy and make the low-wage jobs possible because our gridlocked traffic and outdated infrastructure repels them.

When you attempt to punish suburbanites because they chose to live outside I-285 you really punish the entire region by withholding the investment needed to attract capital, incomes and tax revenues.

Not all six million people in the Atlanta Region can live inside of I-285, it’s not physically possible as even with all of the abandoned houses in the city, there still wouldn’t be enough housing to accommodate SIX MILLION people in an area where roughly 1.5 million people currently live. And even if all six million people did attempt to live ITP, it would drive housing prices and the cost-of-living through the roof (very high demand, very little supply) causing the very dense population to spill over into the countryside outside of I-285 and effecting the creation of suburbs built around the promise of lower housing prices and lower costs-of-living and once again feeding the mantra “Drive-’til-you-qualify” where housing prices get lower the farther one moves away from the densely-populated and overcrowded city.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

December 17th, 2011
2:55 am

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:43 pm

“Gwinett property taxes don’t come close to Dekalb or Fulton.”

Atlanta Mom

December 16th, 2011
11:57 pm

“Millage rates for county only operations are as follows. Remember, the good folks of Fulton and Dekalb pay an additional one percent sales tax for the luxury of having public transportation-such as it is. You have to pay to dance people.”
Cobb 7.2
Dekalb 19.4
Fulton 10.28
Gwinnett 11.78

According to the numbers that you provided, Gwinnett property tax millage rates, which fund the operation of Gwinnett County Transit buses, at least EXCEED those of Fulton County where a 1% sales tax is paid to fund MARTA.

William Quantrill

December 17th, 2011
3:31 am

We don’t want the trains because the trains bring the filth and criminals from Atlanta. They can rob your house and be back home on the train before you get off of work. Since when is it MY responsibility to provide subsidized buses and trains for the 47% that pay no federal taxes? Look at the affirmative action hires and engineers that planed 285! At the 75 juncture going West it narrows from 7 lanes to 2!!! I guess the geniuses at the DOT assumed everyone would go North and not West? Idiots all! Vote NO on T-splost!!!!