And you wonder why voters rejected the T-SPLOST

If you want to see a microcosm of the reason metro Atlanta voters didn’t trust our transportation planners enough to approve the $7.2 billion T-SPLOST tax, I recommend this news from the AJC:

The state Transportation Board is poised to declare the Downtown Connector a gateway to the state, and to help fund a makeover to pretty up some of the high-profile bridges that pass over it.

The first two are the Peachtree Street bridges that pass over the Connector and back, in Downtown and Midtown.

“This lets the traveling public know the city of Atlanta is the capital city,” said DOT board president Johnny Floyd. “We want to showcase it and make sure it looks good.”

The makeover, according to the Midtown Alliance, will include colored under-lighting for night time and the words “Peachtree Street” in lights, as well as sculptured fences and sidewalks on the surface level over the I-85/I-75 interchange.

The Department of Transportation’s board approved the expense on Thursday. DOT will put $1.7 million toward the $5 million project for two bridges. Three other bridges would follow later, said DOT board member Sam Wellborn.

Yes, this must be the best way to spend $5 million in transportation funding (the Atlanta Downtown Improvement District is to contribute some of the money). Just think how pretty Peachtree Street will look as motorists are stuck in traffic on or underneath it!

Now, before you say, “It’s only $5 million. How much traffic relief could we get for that kind of money?” — I have numbers.

The T-SPLOST list included mostly projects that cost millions, if not tens or hundreds of millions, of dollars. But it also included some less expensive projects, particularly in the city of Atlanta.

In fact, there were 14 Atlanta projects that each cost less than $1 million. For $5 million, we could complete the nine cheapest of these — including some projects in the Downtown/Midtown vicinity: improvements along 10th Street, 14th Street, Edgewood Avenue, North Avenue and others, with almost $275,000 to spare. Or we could see some other combination of projects adding up to $5 million.

Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time examining these smaller-scale projects leading up to the July 31 referendum. I don’t know how much congestion relief we’d get from them. But if they made the cut to be on the list, they almost certainly would be more worthwhile than putting some street names in fancy lights on interstate overpasses.

Ah, but what about this line from the AJC story?

The DOT money comes from signs near highway exits that advertise businesses at upcoming rest stops. That money is dedicated to making “gateways” to the state attractive.

Shouldn’t that stipulation preclude the money from being spent on traffic improvements rather than sprucing up our roads? I dunno; ask me again after the state has stopped diverting other fee revenues from the purposes prescribed by the laws creating them.

In any case, I can think of few ways to make a state “gateway” more “attractive” than ensuring motorists can exit the Downtown Connector and actually get to where they’re going. That strikes me as a relevant and better use of the money.

A big part of the public distrust regarding the T-SPLOST was the idea that the state is already spending money as wisely as possible. This is one more episode that makes the skeptics say, “Told you so!”

– By Kyle Wingfield

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265 comments Add your comment

Jaynie

November 16th, 2012
4:33 pm

I certainly agree that this money could be put to better use. Besides, there are 70000 Peachtree Streets in Atlanta. And I will certainly be glad to know that I am looking at one of them while I sit in traffic trying to get to work every day.

Steve

November 16th, 2012
4:34 pm

Right. Passing the T-SPLOST would have allowed for spending of transportation dollars on a more local basis than the current GDOT-driven system. Without it, we’re all at the mercy of GDOT and the entire state. But that’s water under the neon bridge.

MANGLER

November 16th, 2012
4:34 pm

As I stated on the other blog that had this story, I think that the capital building itself tells passers by that they are in a capital city rather than in some backwoods farm town (the skyscrapers, 18 lane highway, and traffic as far as you can see help too) a little more effectively than a sign that says what street you are underneath.
And by the way – didn’t the decorative fencing over 17th Street collapse into freaking traffic below last year?

Aquagirl

November 16th, 2012
4:47 pm

didn’t the decorative fencing over 17th Street collapse into freaking traffic below last year?

If you’re gonna have collapse/accident photos all over the internet then the least we can do is make them look hip and pretty.

Banderson

November 16th, 2012
4:48 pm

Who is in charge of this DOT organization of which you speak?

Dusty

November 16th, 2012
5:10 pm

Kyle,

Am I reading that last sentence correctly?”A big part of public distrust was the idea that the state is already spending money as wisely as possible.”

I thought the public thought the state spent money unwisely. That T-SPLOST just gave them justification to spend a lot more.

You meant the public thought the state couldn’t do any better even with T-SPLOST.

So these silly sign prove that T-SPLOST would have eliminated silliness and kept the spending sensible.

Guess I just don’t get it. The whole thing sounds like an amateurish DOT any way you put it. SPLAT, T- SPLOST or .SPUMONE

Bob Andrews

November 16th, 2012
5:11 pm

Kyle, this is your best writin, yet! The DOT will soon want to discuss, with you, the error of your ways.

Lynnie Gal

November 16th, 2012
5:12 pm

The transportation dept. has too much money–they’re tearing up every street and highway with no regard to traffic problems they cause. Their ruining business, especially this repaving on I-285 on weekends. You can use the highway and merchants in shops at Perimeter Mall must be feeling poorly these days. The money could be spent on the states other needs–like education or something. Anything but more asphalt.

ATLien

November 16th, 2012
5:24 pm

In fact, there were 14 Atlanta projects that each cost less than $1 million. For $5 million, we could complete the nine cheapest of these — including some projects in the Downtown/Midtown vicinity: improvements along 10th Street, 14th Street, Edgewood Avenue, North Avenue and others, with almost $275,000 to spare. Or we could see some other combination of projects adding up to $5 million.

What are the improvements from this list improves traffic? Seems like some dubious purposely vague writing to attempt to prove a specious point

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 16th, 2012
5:28 pm

This is almost as much a waste of road funds as the money spent naming a stretch of roadway for Cynthia McKinney.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

November 16th, 2012
5:43 pm

When politicians revert to “pretty up” you know millions of dollars for nuthin is coming.

Finn McCool (The System isn't Broken; It's Fixed)

November 16th, 2012
5:44 pm

But, my very road is being widened as we speak….but I do live in Hall County (Nathan Steal’s home town).

PJ

November 16th, 2012
5:46 pm

Such sloppy reporting! The article clearly states DOT is spending $1.7M, not $5M. It appears the rest is being put up by Kyle’s beloved private sector because they believe the city’s attractiveness and image make a difference to potential investors. They’re probably not to be trusted either.

carlosgvv

November 16th, 2012
5:47 pm

And yet, when I expressed my distrust of politicians pushing T-SPLOST here, you asked me how things were in my “bunker”.

Thulsa Doom

November 16th, 2012
5:50 pm

Cost- an ugly word in polite liberal society.

cc

November 16th, 2012
5:55 pm

“And yet, when I expressed my distrust of politicians pushing T-SPLOST here, you asked me how things were in my “bunker”.

Funny . . . I pictured you living in “Underground” in an abandoned, boarded-up alley!

Banderson

November 16th, 2012
6:01 pm

Seriously, who runs this GDOT? Isn’t it the state? But…but…you said they’re going to do so much good with charter schools.

Hillbilly D

November 16th, 2012
6:09 pm

Maybe it’s just me but wouldn’t a “Gateway” to the state need to be a whole lot closer to the state line?

A big part of the public distrust regarding the T-SPLOST was the idea that the state is already spending money as wisely as possible.

I agree with Dusty; I think that one needs an edit cause it don’t make sense to me. The public distrust, at least from me was that they wouldn’t spend the money wisely.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 16th, 2012
6:12 pm

Banderson, they don’t RUN nor control the charter schools, they merely approve them on appeal.

Nice try, but epic fail.

Georgia

November 16th, 2012
6:31 pm

When Kyle’s right, there’s no arguin’ the point. I hate it when I lose an argument I’m not even a microcosm of.

Thomas Heyward Jr

November 16th, 2012
6:38 pm

Clearly….the centralized charter school bureaucrats will make better decisions than the centralized DOT bureaucrats.
.
Clearly.
.
lol

@@

November 16th, 2012
6:38 pm

Some litter is prettier than other.

I get the worst of the worst on the roadway in front of my house. Coke cans, beer bottles, fast food containers. I always keep a trash bag in my car. After working all day, I pull in the driveway and begin refuse control.

Not to worry. Sheriff Hill will keep my county clean.

Oh lawdy!

@@

November 16th, 2012
6:47 pm

Maybe it’s just me but wouldn’t a “Gateway” to the state need to be a whole lot closer to the state line?

Too funny, Hillbilly. Logic rules!

Jack ®

November 16th, 2012
7:08 pm

This dates me of course, but I can remember walking down Peachtree without being bothered by panhandlers. And I remember being able to ride the streetcars and trolleys with no fear of being mugged. Maybe the neon lights will do away with the panhandlers and muggers.

The Ghost of Willie B

November 16th, 2012
7:34 pm

@ Jack , “Maybe the neon lights will do away with the panhandlers and muggers.”

Then who will vote for Obama?

cc

November 16th, 2012
7:38 pm

“Then who will vote for Obama?”

LOL! TOO funny!

Hillbilly D

November 16th, 2012
8:17 pm

I get the worst of the worst on the roadway in front of my house. Coke cans, beer bottles, fast food containers.

I usually just throw ‘em back out in the road. That’s where they came from, after all.

Banderson

November 16th, 2012
8:19 pm

Tiberius – If you don’t think the ability to bestow a charter and take it away is “running” it, then you haven’t thought the issue through. The camel’s nose is in the tent. We’ll see who runs them.

Tiberius - pulling the tail of the left AND right when needed

November 16th, 2012
8:34 pm

“We’ll see who runs them.”

Already done, Banderson.

The locals run them. Just as they do their on schools.

@@

November 16th, 2012
9:27 pm

Hillbilly, a litterer???

My mother-in-law used to tell me that two wrongs don’t make it right.

Besides…somebody might run over one of those beer bottles and have a blowout, then an accident….a death.

Who knows, the individual who threw out the beer bottle may have been driving drunk, caused an accident, and possibly another death.

Two deaths by one beer bottle. Chilling thought.

I’ll throw the cans and fast food containers out there. No blowouts.

(ISH)

Real Athens

November 16th, 2012
9:30 pm

This is news? There is absolutely nothing new here. The DOT and large road building contractors have run the State and owned the politicians since time immemorial. Most of the contractors have migrated north since the pillage of Gwinnett County is complete. Now their sites are set on Hall County and the surrounding area. Sprawl, here we come.

We get the government we elect.

@@

November 16th, 2012
9:31 pm

Come to think of it, a can (sharp edges) COULD cause a blowout…an accident…possible death.

A burger wrapper could blow up on someone’s windshield…blocking their view…causing an accident…a death?

I’ll just keep picking it up if that’s alright with you, Hillbilly.

JR in Mableton

November 16th, 2012
10:05 pm

You neglected to report the source of the remaining $3.3 million to enhance the connector. You make it sound as if all $5 million was from GDOT. Please explain the remaining $3.3 million.

No Artificial Flavors

November 16th, 2012
10:07 pm

I don’t mind a little beautification. I mean soviet style architecture doesn’t say much about a city and is as mind numbing as atl traffic. However, how does bridge lighting cost $5 million? I deal with government capital projects everyday but something sounds inflated here.

Just Saying..

November 16th, 2012
10:23 pm

This is not the lean, businesslike approach to government?

Hillbilly D

November 16th, 2012
10:59 pm

Hillbilly D

November 16th, 2012
10:59 pm

Sorry that link was gargantuan.

Road Scholar

November 17th, 2012
6:13 am

Who runs GDOT? Well they have a Commissioner elected by a legislature appointed Board who reports to the Gov. Remember , he put his man, an agricultural engineer in charge of planning, and the Gov has to approve the budget and expenditures on projects. How is that working for ya’ll?

By the way, these projects have been scaled back over the years…originally they (locals) wanted to cover the whole Interstate downtown because it was considered an “eyesore”. They never considered ventilation of the tunnels it would create. And the cost was way over $5M.

I never knew Mr Deal had a degree in transportation planning!

Georgia

November 17th, 2012
6:14 am

Five million would cover the cost to tear down spaghetti junction. What an eyesore that thing is. Mayve we could plant kudzu and swallow it up. No, lets tear down that gwinnet is great tower monstrosity of a road hazard. No, better, lets tear down that confounded big chicken. No, lets put a giant fence around smyrna. .

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

November 17th, 2012
7:10 am

Banderson: Who is in charge of this DOT organization of which you speak?
—————————–

Government.

Mr. Snarky

November 17th, 2012
7:29 am

So, the money is intended to beautify roads etc? It seems only fair that Atlanta might get some of those funds…not just rural counties.
Plus it’s being matched by other sources of funding?
Not that the DOT is to be trusted, but this doesn’t seem highly incriminating evidence.

cc

November 17th, 2012
7:30 am

Georgia:

“tear down that gwinnet is great tower monstrosity”

I certainly agree with that since Gwinnett is no longer great . . .

Alter Ego

November 17th, 2012
7:54 am

Instead of staring up at a newly remodeled bridge, install a JumboTron. At least give people something to watch whilst sitting in the interminable ATL traffic :)

Mr. Snarky

November 17th, 2012
7:54 am

Does anyone other than me find it ironic that money from roadside ads is intended to beautify roads since there’s nothing uglier out on the roads than roadside ads?

Mr. Snarky

November 17th, 2012
7:57 am

install a JumboTron

And cause even more wrecks?

Alter Ego

November 17th, 2012
8:06 am

@Mr. Snarky

Lighten up Francis, it’s obviously a joke.

carlosgvv

November 17th, 2012
8:28 am

cc – 5:55

Well, some people do think I resemble Dostoyevsky’s “Underground Man”.

Lil' Barry Bailout - OBAMAPHONE!!!

November 17th, 2012
8:34 am

@Alter Ego

Lighten up madam. For someone so expert on jokes, I’m surprised you didn’t recognize it as one.

Mark in mid-town

November 17th, 2012
8:38 am

I’m a conservative but it’s these kind of short-sighted vision-less opinion pieces which cause me to part company with many of the conservatives of this region. Atlanta and Georgia are in competition with other states and cities. There is a general trend in the country where business and population would like to locate to cities if possible. This is due to young people preferring to live in the city to a degree that didn’t exist for the generation before, and it’s due to the middle-aged and older people increasingly wanting to be near amenities they can easily get to once the kids are out of the house. The suburbs are just not as appealing as they used to be. It is farsighted for things to be spruced up in Atlanta and I think it’s actually great that the state of Georgia shows some interest in doing so. It is not a waste of money. It will make both Atlanta and Georgia a more attractive place for both potential future residents and businesses who are trying to determine which parts of the country to locate in.

Mr. Snarky

November 17th, 2012
8:48 am

I meant “And cause even more wrecks? :)