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TSPLOST gone but transportation woes still demand action

August 03, 2012
There is an Indian fable that runs more or less like this: Twelve blind men were given the task to examine a camel and based on their description, a divine being would then fashion the beast.

Each examined one area of the animal, head, nose, mouth, legs and tail. Then the divine being went to work and created his masterpiece – the elephant.

Now please do not think by any means I am comparing the state General Assembly with the wisdom of the divine. Let's just say had the state legislature design a transportation plan to fail, it could hardly have done better than the one they presented to Georgia voters.

They asked us to approve a regional transit systems with no plans and no system of administration, just a sales tax. Then they told the regional councils they should draw up their particular wish lists and if it passed, the legislature would then let us know how the transportation systems would be administered. I suppose were supposed to just trust their innate wisdom on that.

The reality is the legislature can't decide on much of anything unless everyone gets something they want, if not a piece of the pie in question, then a slice of their own somewhere else down the line. And to a degree that is what we call politics. But there should be some issues that transcend politics as usual, and a vital issue such as transportation is one of them.

It is probably too soon to have a good analysis of why the plan failed when everyone almost universally agrees that if transportation is not the No. 1 problem in Georgia it is certainly No. 1-B.

I have seen it suggested that there is a new sense among Georgia voters that is anti-politics as usual and anti-cronyism. The point to how unlikely coalition of the tea party, the Sierra Club and the Georgia NAACP all were united in defeating the TSPLOST.

I don't know how unlikely the coalition is in that I don't know many people who do not support a return to basic American values, a repugnance of discrimination and the desire to leave the planet to our grandchildren in better shape than we found it.

Perhaps I am wrong, maybe the plan was just that bad. But you know it is a bad plan when the fallback position of its supporters was "There is no Plan B."

Gov. Nathan Deal has stepped up to say that there will be no second transportation referendum and that there won't be a motor fuel tax increase (curious he is taking the most obvious funding tool off the table before there is any discussion of what is on the table) and that will be his plan.

Given the pasting the General Assembly has taken on this (and it is their failure), I should think the members would be glad to see someone else come up with the ideas and let them throw the rocks.

I like the idea that many are calling for and that is to have the plan crafted by traffic engineers rather than politicians. I know it is a rather novel idea, but it seemed to work well for NASA. But I will sleep on the matter for now.

Wake me up when they start discussing how to fund the thing, because until there is a plan to pay for it, there is no plan at all.

Managing Editor, Appen Newspapers Inc.
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Tags: Community & Outreach

  1. report print email
    The key issue
    August 05, 2012 | 08:02 PM

    Mr. Hurd has correctly observed that the key question before us is how to pay for transit improvements and things like bikeways. The gasoline tax paid by motorists can only pay for road improvements and maintenance. The question is how do we get transit users to pay the costs for transit? Should counties in the metro area pay a 1% sales tax like Fulton and Dekalb already do to support regional transit?

    Johns creek
    Johns creek
  2. report print email
    August 12, 2012 | 10:21 AM

    Charlotte, Dallas, Tampa, Birmingham, Raleigh, Jacksonville and all their fellow cities profusely thank the generous Ga voters for sending all those new jobs, growth, and new funding for education and overall quality of life and a bright future their way instead of Atlanta which has sent a clear message that we are unwilling to invest in our future ... or that of our children. How generous of Atlantans!

    Ray Appen
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    Test Subject
    August 14, 2012 | 05:12 PM

    Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their conutry.

    greg wynne
  4. report print email
    Thank You Ray
    August 14, 2012 | 08:17 PM

    As an over-taxed paying voter , who don't have the luxury of exploiting tax loop holes, sendings "entitlement" jobs away is the least of my concern . These were the tax payers jobs to send away and we did just that... Not more than 6 blocks from where I live I have watched the SAME street and sidewalk ripped up over SIX times in three years !!!! As a TAX payer I'm not here or in the business of creating jobs , just to be creating them or to put food on someone ELSE'S table .

    Johns Creek
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    Traffic Congestion
    August 14, 2012 | 11:11 PM

    Ray, T-SPLOST was defeated because it would not have improved traffic congestion or positioned the area for future prosperity. More than half the tax would have gone to mass transit that only 5% would use. There were uneconomic development projects like the Atlanta Beltline streetcar that require massive subsidies from us and our children. With such a failure, voters should demand new leadership for the Atlanta Regional Commission, which is the transportation planning agency for Metro Atlanta. We have a road shortage. Only government would respond to a demand for roads by building mass transit that few can use. I am glad you feel good about your yes vote, but I don't know why.

    Tom Miller
  6. report print email
    August 14, 2012 | 11:41 PM

    Tom, you won't have to be concerned with Atlanta's failure to invest in infrastructure; your children and grandchildren will be the ones who will pay. I would be interested if you can find any major cities that have recently defeated their own TSPLOST.

    And I will tell you another one coming down the pike. The education SPLOST has been passing by slimmer and slimmer margins. When the penny-wise and pound foolish folks vote that one down ( possibly next time if the trend continues) the competing cities will have a field day. But you Tom won't have to be concerned about that one either. And that's a significant part of the bigger problem - this myopic attitude that seems to have paralyzed much of this country.

  7. report print email
    Ray don't get it .
    August 15, 2012 | 01:33 PM

    Ray ... Here is what's going on .

    1.Fear being used to sell tax hikes is no longer working ! People are starting to wake up ...

    2. People can already see that there is NO real accountability to any promises made on any of these tax dollars .

    I have no doubt we will see this tax again but I know full well it will be packaged in just another new lie .

    People can SEE the corruption ! It's that simple. I know full well my stollen tax dollars are paying for back door deals and I'm 100% done with voting for any more corruption !

    Johns Creek
  8. report print email
    August 15, 2012 | 02:34 PM

    thank you for confirming my point Mike.And no, I don't think you will see it again any time soon. We'll just watch Atlanta lose more and more jobs to cities that invest in their infrastructure. It is very very simple and not hard to see that coming.

    The cost of not approving a TSPLOST even if it is substantially not efficient is far greater than the cost of approving a bad one. If every other market is passing TSPLOSTs to stay current with their transportation and core infrastructure needs and some are not, regardless of the reason they are not, in the long run companies certainly will look more favorably on cities that are improving and reinvesting in themselves than those that are not. Nothing complicated about that. It's just common sense.

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