TSPLOST gone but transportation woes still demand action

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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.

TSPLOST, plan