Nearly a year later, we are still confused about why we lost regional transportation sales tax referendum

By Maria Saporta

Although 11 months have passed since the regional transportation sales tax vote, the defeat still stings.

The Atlanta region has never been comfortable with failure — partly because it has enjoyed more than its fair share of successes over the decades.

So metro leaders seem hesitant to take a diagnostic look at what went wrong last July 31 during the primary election when voters in the 10-county metro Atlanta area defeated the transportation sales tax by a 68 percent to 32 percent vote.

But others believe that a failure is too important to waste — we must learn from our past so we can know what we need to do differently in the future.

We began to scratch the surface on this all-too-sensitive topic last week when the Center for Transportation Excellence held its 2013 Transit Initiatives and Communities Conference in Atlanta from June 23 to June 26 at the Loews Midtown hotel.

During a panel discussion called: “Lessons from Atlanta,” several talking points were presented.

“It was a perfect storm,” said Dave Williams, vice president of transportation for the Metro Atlanta Chamber — a key player in the fund-raising effort and the political campaign.

Panel moderator Williams (no relation to Chamber President Sam Williams) attributed the loss to the poor economy, a lack of voters’ trust in government, a first-ever regional referendum, no obvious champion for the entire region and a greater turnout than expected (675,000 instead of an expected 375,000).

“The trust issue was huge,” said Dave Stockert, CEO of Post Properties who chaired the fund-raising campaign. “Our project list was so big, it invited more distrust.”

Nathaniel Smith, CEO of Partnership for Southern Equity, said it was problematic to have the Sierra Club, the NAACP and the Tea Party oppose the referendum, albeit for different reasons. But he said that showed a need to have more people at the table.

Kathryn Lawler, who headed the community involvement effort for the Atlanta Regional Commission, said 191,000 people from metro Atlanta did participate on public forums about the project list , but nearly a year went by between the approval of the list and the referendum, which may have been confusing.

The panel echoed what others have said — maybe the Atlanta region isn’t ready to invest as a region when it comes to transit and transportation; maybe “region” has become a dirty word; maybe the vote showed that people don’t want transit.

Here is the danger of not taking an in depth look at ourselves. We easily could be making erroneous conclusions based on faulty assumptions.

First, are the people who voted on July 31, 2012 a true representation of our region? A total of about 675,000 people in the 10-county region voted on that day.

But less than four months later on the Nov. 6 general election, a total of 1.69 million people in the 10-county Atlanta region voted — 56.4 percent casting their vote for President Barack Obama (954,829) and 43.6 percent for Republican Mitt Romney (737,081).

(While one can not assume that most Obama voters would have voted for the referendum, Democrats usually are much more open to being taxed than Republicans).

Asked if the referendum had been held on Nov. 6, would the results been different, Stockert said: “We would have come closer but we still would not have won.”

But that’s not what Ashley Robbins, campaign director of Georgians for Better Transit, believes. She thinks it definitely would have passed in November. In fact, Robbins believes the referendum could have won on July 31 if there had been a well-run campaign.

She is not alone in that belief.

Several CEOs have quietly asked: “We started at 50/50 in the polls; we spent $8 million, and we ended up at 32 percent. What happened?”

During the panel discussion, Alan Wulkan, a national transportation consultant with several wins under his belt, said: “You should be brutally honest with yourselves. You knew many of these issues before the election.”

Wulkan, managing partner for HDR/InfraConsult, said other communities facing the same issues passed transit referendums at the same time ours was defeated.

After the panel, Wulkan said he had been interviewed to run the Atlanta campaign, but he didn’t get the job. But he said his comments were not sour grapes. Instead, he said he was glad he didn’t get the job.

“When I was hired in Charlotte to run the Charlotte campaign, I told them: ‘If your are going to hire someone who has done transit elections before, you have to listen to them,’” Wulkan said. “In Atlanta, the campaign was run from the top down by people who had little or no experience in winning a transit or transportation campaign.”

St. Louis had a successful transit campaign with the following tag line: “Transit. Some of us ride it. All of us need it.”

Robbins said that 52 percent of the $6.1 billion our project list was dedicated to transit projects, yet Atlanta campaign strategists downplayed transit out of fear they would lose suburban Republican votes.

Nearly all the marketing material — television commercials and printed ads — showed roads and cars in a huge “untie Atlanta” ball. There was a commercial of a woman driver being strangled by her seatbelt, and there were virtually no images of buses or rail or messages of transit.

“Some people said the campaign did it all wrong, that we should have only gone for the people who would vote for it,” Williams said sarcastically during the panel discussion.

During the Atlanta campaign, a common refrain was that no money would be spent inside the perimeter because the money was needed in the suburbs to convince reluctant voters.

“The messaging from the get-go was road-focused with a highway sign as the logo,” Robbins said. “I remember sitting in meetings where they said the target demographic was people outside the perimeter, and it was intentional to not discuss transit until it was too late.”

In the last few weeks of the campaign, the pollsters realized they had ignored transit-friendly Democratic voters in the central city. And instead of convincing suburban voters, all they had done was alert their opponents to go to the polls to vote no.

To peel apart the onion a little more, much has been said about the Sierra Club’s opposition to the referendum. In reality, the Sierra Club’s membership was split with 50 percent in favor and 50 percent either opposed or undecided. The executive committee ended up voting 8 to 4 to oppose the referendum.

As you can see, the issues surrounding the referendum were multilayered, complex and open to interpretation and analysis.

“It is important to do a deep dive,” Nathaniel Smith said. “There’s a need for the region to understand what happened.”

Robbins agreed: “If we don’t ask what happened and learn from those lessons, we are going to repeat the same thing with the same result.”

Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said it is important to ask voters what transportation projects they are willing to pay for in the future. It might be too late to ask voters why they voted the way they did on July 31, 2012.

In my opinion that would be a flawed poll anyway because a primary election is not as representative of the region as is a general election.

“It can never hurt to examine the way we went about things. We can learn from our setbacks,” Hooker said. “We need to have a conversation with voters and some kind of analysis of how the campaign messaging affected their decision, and what might have been a better way to go. We should do that when the time is right, and it is not right, right now.”

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63 comments
The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{{"Robbins said that 52 percent of the $6.1 billion our project list was dedicated to transit projects, yet Atlanta campaign strategists downplayed transit out of fear they would lose suburban Republican votes. Nearly all the marketing material — television commercials and printed ads — showed roads and cars in a huge “untie Atlanta” ball. There was a commercial of a woman driver being strangled by her seatbelt, and there were virtually no images of buses or rail or messages of transit. “Some people said the campaign did it all wrong, that we should have only gone for the people who would vote for it,” Williams said sarcastically during the panel discussion. During the Atlanta campaign, a common refrain was that no money would be spent inside the perimeter because the money was needed in the suburbs to convince reluctant voters. “The messaging from the get-go was road-focused with a highway sign as the logo,” Robbins said. “I remember sitting in meetings where they said the target demographic was people outside the perimeter, and it was intentional to not discuss transit until it was too late.” In the last few weeks of the campaign, the pollsters realized they had ignored transit-friendly Democratic voters in the central city. And instead of convincing suburban voters, all they had done was alert their opponents to go to the polls to vote no."}}}

...If the powers-that-be had done any degree of research, they would have realized that large-scale road expansion proposals are not necessarily received all that well in the suburbs, either.

Though overall, OTP suburban Metro Atlantans are generally SLIGHTLY more receptive to road improvements to an extent, particularly in situations where road improvements are targeted to the busiest roads and junctions (intersections and interchanges), large-scale road expansion tends to be received poorly in most circumstances in the suburbs OTP in the decade since the Outer Perimeter/Northern Arc debacle, particularly if a proposed road is perceived by the public as being purely developmental with no traffic congestion relief benefit.

This is particularly the case in politically-dominant large OTP suburban counties like Cobb and Gwinnett where many residents are fearful that more new roads will only lead to the construction of more of the type of sprawl and overdevelopment that has led to those two increasingly heavily-populated counties having some of the worst rush hour traffic in the entire nation.

This is even moreso the case in further outlying outer-suburban counties OTP like Fayette and Cherokee where there is much strong local sentiment against overdevelopment and a fear that too much new road construction will lead to those still largely-rural outer-suburban counties becoming as urban as once-outer suburban/exurban Cobb and Gwinnett have become as the third and second-most populated counties in the state, respectively.

Old Native
Old Native

Maria, Thanks for pointing out that it's important to revisit this issue. The lively conversation here is an indication that there are lots of feelings, ideas, opinions and wisdom to bring to the table. The revisit seems a bit daunting! Who's most likely to take it on? Is this a job for the ARC?

moliere
moliere

Yawn. The people who keep endlessly pointing out how MARTA is mismanaged forget one simple thing: had Cobb, Gwinnett and the other GOP (and white) run counties had joined the system - which they could have done and can still do at any time and even the GOP run counties that are not part of the MARTA charter can at any time petition the state to be added to it and they would be - then they would join the MARTA leadership. Cobb and Gwinnett joining alone would give the GOP as much representation as the intown Democrats have, seeing as the system is limited to Fulton and DeKalb at present. Getting one of the NINE Republican counties that is contiguous to either Fulton or DeKalb (in some cases both as is the case for Gwinnett) would give the GOP a majority on MARTA. That would allow MARTA to be "well managed."

But no one wants to do that. Why?
Because no one wants to pay for it. Instead of paying the penny tax, these folks want the state to take over MARTA, take the money that the intown people are contributing and use it to transform it into an agency benefit the suburbanites with the suburbanites not having to pay a penny. Basically turn its function into one whose main job would be to host an express bus service from the suburbs that would take suburban commuters downtown to work and to attend events like Falcons and Braves games. The rest of the system would be "privatized", meaning sold off to GOP contributors and to people who have business ties with GOP legislators, who would then either triple the cost of providing the same service, or dismantled for scrap. 

And of course after that is done, these very same people who would complain about how "those people downtown don't have jobs" when they will have dismantled the very agency that allowed many of them to get to work and school. 

MARTA could be an adequately funded, well run agency at any time. The sole reason why it isn't is that its critics do not want it to be. 

Marketing Messages
Marketing Messages

The idea that a journalist has to report the fact that no one cares to learn more about why this went down by a wide margin when proponents  were willing to spend over $8 million says it all.  I saw a combination of poor /central leadership, over reaching - complex big government style solutions and poor messaging.  On the messaging ... I'm still offended by the idea that the electorate both dems and gop, both white and black are so dumb that anyone would think a vote for this was going to "untie Atlanta" ... I think that tag line was a genesis for the distrust that let the polls go from 50 -50 down to 32% in favor. It was a mockery of any intelligence in the electorate ... as if to say some magic bullet of $6 billion or even $60 billion could fix METRO Atlanta's road centric sprawl and car happy people with the snap of a single vote.  In an attempt to make this simple to understand "untie Atlanta" was gas on the fire of distrust.  

I ended up voting for T Splost after wisely getting over the marketing messages likes "untie atlanta".  I voted for it based on a comment by a fellow business owner, she said  " it is not perfect but it is something with some positives and if we don't pass this the rest of the country will see us as inept and unwilling to do anything even imperfect and partial solutions"   ...... and that pitch to me in the final week was just enough common sense to make me stop and weigh the merits as a resident, business owner and employer!  

Maria thanks for writing about this and pointing out that we still have [ the same] leaders willing to stick their head in the sand, deny the problem, point fingers and/or retire.  Like the guy said if they don't want to listen.... but next time around I hope we might be more honest about the solutions and hopefully we can start chipping away at the metro's problems that took decades to create.  

See:  All together, metro Atlanta has welcomed more than four million new residents and grown by some 6,700 square miles in the last four decades alone—rates of growth that led urban redevelopment impresario Christopher Leinberger to speculate in the mid 1990s that it was "probably the fastest-growing of any metropolitan area in the history of the world."14 -
See more at: http://southernspaces.org/2013/well-tied-knot-atlantas-mobility-crisis-and-2012-t-splost-debate#sthash.cb2I02Qs.dpuf

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

I'm really surprised that no one has picked up on the root of why this failed.  The legislature designed it to fail.  No one can persuade me that Gov. Perdue  ever wanted this to pass.  He acted because he was forced to by the business interests.  All you have to do is look at his record on transit to see that he was anti-transit.  He quickly dismantled every good thing Roy Barnes had done for the areas transportation needs in his first year.  There are several things that point to this being designed to fail.  First as mentioned in the article was the date of the vote.  Having it on a primary voting date in and of itself doomed it to failure.  You had several very competitive races on the republican side and almost none for democrats.  Republicans were much more hostile to the idea of a transportation sales tax, and that was known when this passed out of the legislature.  Two, the way the region was cobbled together was totally wrong.  Fayette Co's needs are not the same as DeKalb's.  This should have been a core county region with Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Clayton, Gwinette.  The additional counties being added enabled the amount of "mistrust", because these counties dont see themselves (whether correctly or not) as having anything to do with Atlanta, and wondering whether their tax money would simply be going to Atlanta.

I also think that not giving more focus on the S. DeKalb MARTA line was a mistake.  I think ridership on such a line would be high enough to justify it and would have settled the NAACP's problems.  They have been fighting for (and been promised) this line for an awfully long time (back to the days of Cynthia McKinney prior to her going bonkers).  There was interest in the Lindbergh line from Emory...but not much else.  Dont forget that that line had to negotiate the neighborhood of Druid Hills and similar powerful associations and I bet there were no votes stemming from this line.

Also, as has been stated. they just took the transit community for granted.  I remember several articles of The Saporta Report where Maria was questioning this strategy.  In my opinion...these were the major reasons it failed with the date being #1

AtlantaAnnie
AtlantaAnnie

Maria:  thanks for reminding us of a very important lesson.  It doesn't matter how many times you get knocked down, the important thing is that you get up!  With all due respect to Doug Hooker, we are WAY WAY overdue for a soul-searching discussion of the Metro TIA experience.  Let the record show that most large urban regions that are "ahead" of us in transportation had to go through multiple voter referenda (including failures) before they reached their ultimate successful effort.  Our region appears to be so discombobulated that we figure we are going to give up after the first major setback!

The experience of the last five years shows that our federal and state governments are becoming more and more irrelevant to solving important regional problems.  The successful regions that have already had their collective light bulbs go on are well on their way (unlike Metro Atlanta) to get the problem-solving activity going and are way past the griping and blaming stage.  Our "regional leaders" are NOT stepping up to the plate.  To all of your Chamber leaders, the Governor, State Elected Officials, County Chairs, and Mayors:  You can only be a leader if people want to follow you.  Figure it out quick and get the work started to building a better region....my two cents....

Native Atlanta Boy
Native Atlanta Boy

Not only was this a huge tax hike the project list was not a good list.  Yes much of the money upfront was going to MARTA which already has sales tax money.  MARTA has for years mismanaged and actually stolen money from the tax payers.  MARTA, like all of government, has plenty of money.  They simply have no idea how to use it and are all corrupt why should we give them more money.  Regarding the various projects.  Many of the needed projects would not even start for 20 years.  My objection to the tax hike was and remains 1) there is money to do these projects we simply need to manage the dollars received better; 2) find other ways to fund these projects i.e. local or community investment funds or Improvement District dollars; 3) get the developers to fund these projects.  For example The GA 400/Hammond Rd Interchange was paid out of CID dollars; The Beltline was and is being built with developer dollars (developers simply wanted tax payers to fund a project to help their projects); I285/GA 400 Interchange is now getting CID money and should get GA 400 toll dollars as is the GA 400/I85 Interchange is.  How about all the road improvements around the airport magically being funded?  And for all you Dems (The Last Democrat in GA) where did all that Obama stimulus for "shovel ready" projects go?  Trust me people there is so much money available to fund MARTA, road projects, etc., that taxes need to be reduced!  These crooks keep asking for more money because stupid voters keep voting yes and they simply squander it.  Sorry, as a people, we should NEVER EVER vote to raise our taxes.  Look at the school tax hikes?  They never end!  The message that was sent is to clean up your house and manage the money you have government.

MandoTrey
MandoTrey

A look at the initial funding of MARTA in 1971 shows how to barely win a transportation referendum. Make 100% of the tax money go toward the transit. To have 52% as in the 2012 is on the edge of ethical considerations to even call it transit policy. Be clear, be honest. We need transit policy, and one that plans for 100% of the funds going to the beltline, and to trains that carry hundreds and thousands of people at a time, not to buses that carry tens of people. That would win.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{"Nearly a year later, we are still confused about why we lost regional transportation sales tax referendum "}}

...The regional transportation sales tax referendum failed simply because it was BAD transportation policy.

A regional sales tax referendum is a really horrifically bad way to fund transportation wants and needs in a metro region as large, as multi-faceted, as multi-layered and as politically, culturally and as socially diverse as Atlanta is.

Most, if not all, of the other metro regions where the referendum approach to transportation funding has worked have either been much smaller or have encompassed only part of a large metro region (like one large urban county out of a multi-county metro region where the majority of the metro region's residents lived) mostly in metro regions that have been west of the Mississippi with the noted exception of Charlotte where the referendum was held in one large mostly urban metro county.

Come to think of it, I may be wrong, but I cannot think of any metro region transportation-funding referendum that has included as many counties as did last year's T-SPLOST in Metro Atlanta with 10 wildly-diverse counties.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{“It is important to do a deep dive,” Nathaniel Smith said. “There’s a need for the region to understand what happened.” Robbins agreed: “If we don’t ask what happened and learn from those lessons, we are going to repeat the same thing with the same result.”}}

...That is an excellent point, but chances are that we are likely not going to be repeating the same thing anytime soon, if ever.

That's because after its overwhelming failure, the regional T-SPLOST referendum approach to transportation funding has become extremely politically-radioactive around the Gold Dome where it was commissioned at the behest of an outgoing Governor Sonny Perdue in 2010.

Georgia Republicans, who despite totally and completely dominating the state's political scene with possession of all statewide offices and a supermajority in the State Legislature, are already becoming more and more fearful of being on political thin-ice over the long-term due to fast-changing demographics that increasingly threaten to turn Georgia into a majority-minority state.

Georgia Republicans fear that another disasterous political outing like the wildly-unpopular T-SPLOST could cause them to lose what is currently an iron-tight grip on the state's political scene and could even potentially give life to a Georgia Democratic Party that is beyond-dead at the moment.

Because of this political calculus, Georgia Republicans are extremely-unlikely to commission another statewide series of regional T-SPLOSTs ever again.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

{{"To peel apart the onion a little more, much has been said about the Sierra Club’s opposition to the referendum. In reality, the Sierra Club’s membership was split with 50 percent in favor and 50 percent either opposed or undecided. The executive committee ended up voting 8 to 4 to oppose the referendum."}}

...The Sierra Club opposed the referendum because knew that roadbuilding on a large-scale in the Atlanta region would likely become very-difficult both financially and politically, if and after the referendum failed.

With 48% of the project list being dedicated to road construction projects plus another roughly 15% of T-SPLOST revenues going to city governments who were most likely to use those revenues on road construction projects, the Sierra Club knew that the failure of the T-SPLOST would likely bolster the prospects of large-scale transit expansion across the region over the long-term by making funding scarce for road construction projects over both the near-term and the longer-term.

The Sierra Club also knew that just as there was strong opposition to transit expansion from some politically-dominant quarters in the suburbs OTP, there was also strong opposition to large-scale road construction in the suburbs OTP.

This was particularly the case in mostly-urban OTP suburban counties like Cobb and Gwinnett, where many residents opposed the T-SPLOST out of fear that the revenues from the sales tax would be used to build more developmental roads and make sprawl and traffic worse than it already is.

This was also particularly the case in less-urban and more-rural OTP suburban counties like Fayette and Cherokee where many residents feared that the revenues from the sales tax would be used to build developmental roads that would lead to the development of the type of heavy sprawl that has turned OTP counties like Cobb and Gwinnett from once far-flung outer suburbs and exurbs to increasingly mostly-urban counties with issues of increasing traffic, overcrowding and crime.

mariasaporta
mariasaporta moderator

Readers, let's try to keep our conversation with each other as respectful as possible. We certainly can have differences of opinion — that's healthy. But let's not start attacking each other for having viewpoints that are different than our own. From my perspective, it's hard to decouple race and income from most attitudes and decisions in our region. But if one looks at the changing demographics of our suburbs and the ITP, it will be harder to split our region along racial and ethnic lines. It's only a matter time before residents in Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Clayton and Douglas will start wanting and needing more transit. Thanks for sharing your comments. But let's stay away from personal attacks. Thanks. Maria

Atlanesman
Atlanesman

Leave it to "moliere" to attach a  race related label. Sickening.  I am Gay and a Democrat..and I voted no !  Moliere is what is wrong with Atlanta. The MINUTE  an election result  is made public...jerks like him attach a  race-related cause and effect.

moliere
moliere

It failed primarily because the mostly white Republican suburbs do not want to cooperate with mostly black Democratic Atlanta. That is the size of it, and that isn't going to go away. That is why Atlanta, Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and whoever else actually wants to become a region should join and let everyone else continue to refight the Civil War and Brown vs. Board of Education. Some of the other south of I-20 counties may join in because they are geographically cut off from the affluent north. Cobb, Cherokee, Gwinnett, Forsyth, maybe Douglas, Paulding and Bartow along with maybe Barrow, Walton, Newton and Rockdale could form their "let those people eat cake" region. But Coweta, Fayette and possibly Henry are too far away, unless they propose some multi-county highway that is going to be some sort of outer I-285. 

juanita driggs
juanita driggs

The following from the story sums it up nicely: The reason why it didn't pass  “The trust issue was huge,” said Dave Stockert, CEO of Post Properties who chaired the fund-raising campaign. “Our project list was so big, it invited more distrust.”

There was NO COHERENT PLAN! Easy to say but admittedly hard to do. 

Kilmore
Kilmore

I am going to kind of 'disagree" with the idea that we need to bring more parties to the table. What I mean by that is one of the things that was wrong with the TSPLOST was the fact that it was just a just a huge wishlist of items used to bring on multiple parties. What TSPLOST did not offer was a cohesive strategy to improve Atlanta's transport networks.


I think people would be more willing to pay a tax if they thought they were investing in something new and game changing for the city. Something a specialized group of planners with a strategy and a goal. What the TSPLOST offered looked like a pork laden bill coming out of Congress. Bringing "more people to the table" would only cloud that process with individual demands. We need experts to come up with a plan, taking in all the needs of Metro Atlantans. Offer up a good cohesvise vision and I guarantee it will be easier to pass next time around.


Oh, and don't bother including the outlying counties into the mix. They will now and always vote against it.

CXcellence
CXcellence

Leaders and residents can't forget what it means to be a large metropolitan region -- keyword, region. 

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

The T-SPLOT was defeated because the priority was all wrong.  Beltine, street cars were first on the list.  Fixing major intersections were last on the list.  

Regional transportation is not STREET CARS or a BELTLINE in DOWNTOWN ATLANTA.  If is fixing I-285 / GA400 interchange which effects thousands & thousands of people in the region every day.  It's smoothing out the transition from I-285 west to I-75 north.  Figuring out why the i-675 S to I-75 south always backs up.  Jimmy Carter Blvd and I-85.  Holcomb Bridge at GA400.  These bottle necks affect citizens from several metro counties every day.  Yet none were a priority.

The people who are suppose to be "experts" can't find there way home with a map!!!  T-SPLOT was doomed from the start because people saw thru the lies and saw that "they " would not benefit.  T-SPLOT was nothing but political graft wrapped in a pretty bow.

Next time, take out all the non regional projects.  Put only the projects that could be funded & completed in the 5 years of the tax and make them ones that truly help the most metro citizens.  What a concept - a program that helps the common citizen.

We have not had one of those in this state for years!!!  And yes, my feeling about government are jaded!!!!

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Old Native If the failure of the regional referendum is revisited, it should only be to figure out what the region's transportation NEEDS REALLY are, it should NOT be to formulate reasoning and set the stage for another highly-flawed and inappropriate attempt at funding the region's transportation needs and wants with a counterproductive regional referendum.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@moliere  As two large suburban counties with large (but shrinking) elements that have traditionally been averse to the concept of transit expansion into their counties from Atlanta, the conservative-dominated power structure in Cobb and Gwinnett counties has never really expressed much of an interest in seeing the state takeover MARTA (though clear and rising majorities of residents in those counties have expressed growing interest in seeing an increase in transit availability because of the severity of rush hour commutes).

Most of the impetus to see the state play a much-greater role in the management and operation of MARTA has come from the Republican-dominated areas of North Fulton and North DeKalb counties where affluent residents are already paying the 1% sales tax on purchases and want to see much more transit service to and from rising employment and activity centers in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta and Johns Creek.

Also, much of the reason why MARTA is not an adequately-funded well-run agency does not have to do with Cobb and Gwinnett (and Clayton) counties refusing to join MARTA and pay the 1% sales tax on purchases that Fulton and DeKalb counties pay...With the exception of transit service to and from the Atlanta Airport, MARTA provides virtually no transit service to either of those 3 non-member counties and therefore has no expenses in those counties.

Much of the reason why MARTA is not an adequately-funded and well-run agency has to do with MARTA failing (and often just outright refusing) to collect enough in revenues from fares to fund the agency outside of sales tax revenues (the state-imposed "50-50 restriction" that required the agency to set aside 50% of its revenues for capital expenses only applies to sales tax revenues, not farebox revenues...and even with the state requiring that MARTA set aside 50% of its sales tax revenues for capital expenses MARTA still does not have enough for capital expenses...MARTA still needed $600 million from the failed T-SPLOST to attempt to catch up on capital expenses because of an intentionally-depressed fare structure that has made the agency too overdependent on limited sales tax revenues). 

In addition to not collecting enough revenues from the farebox during its existence, MARTA also has not necessarily been the best manager of the sales tax revenues it collects and the real estate assets it has around its stations.

Also, in all fairness, in addition to the traditionally white conservative power structure in suburban counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton traditionally not wanting to be apart of MARTA, the traditionally black-dominated liberal power structure in Fulton and DeKalb counties has not necessarily been all that eager to expand MARTA into those suburban counties out of fear that they would have to share or even concede political power over MARTA to those predominately white and conservative counties after doing so.

The political restrictions to MARTA being expanded beyond Fulton and DeKalb counties have not just come from outside of Fulton and DeKalb counties, but from INSIDE Fulton and DeKalb counties as well.

Anytime that parties in Cobb and Gwinnett counties make serious inquiries into expanding MARTA out into their counties from beyond Fulton and DeKalb, MARTA often tells them that those counties would have to pay the 1% sales tax for upwards of 15 years before receiving any transit service. 

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@moliere

"MARTA could be an adequately funded, well run agency at any time. The sole reason why it isn't is that its critics do not want it to be."

LOL. As my grandfather said, "If wishes were horses then beggars might ride."

No amount of funding would ever be adequate to satisfy MARTA. The established fact it is not a well-run agency is not due to its critics, but is instead due to:

1. A top heavy, unimaginative bureaucracy focused on keeping their perquisites,

2. An intransigent and over-compensated employee union, and

3. Failed public relations and planning departments that discourage and alienate many patrons, resulting in reduced ridership (down 15% on trains and 31% on buses since 2001).

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Marketing Messages EXCELLENT comments!

But with how much of a political disaster the T-SPLOST turned out to be, there very likely is no next time for the regional referendum approach to transportation funding.

As you alluded to, we will chip away at Metro Atlanta's problems, but the way that we chip away at those transportation-related problems is much more likely to be with the very-gradual introduction and expansion of congestion pricing, user fees and private financing than it is to be with convoluted transportation referendums.

You are also very unlikely to hear much from the powers-that-be (particularly politicians in the State Legislature, Governor Nathan Deal who is running for re-election in 2014, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed who is running for re-election and wants to run for Governor in 2018, etc) because no one in political power wants to go back and hash-up and openly examine under a very-public microscope one of the biggest political failures/debacles in Georgia political history.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@ScottNAtlanta You make some very good points.

But even though many observers are of the belief that holding the vote in November might have helped the referendum to perform much better if not pass, I'm of the belief that holding the vote in November possibly could have made things even worse and here's why, two words: NORTHERN ARC.

One of the main reasons why the Sierra Club opposed the referendum was because the T-SPLOST would have funded a road construction project in Gwinnett County that many people around the region and throughout North Georgia thought was a resurrection of the very-unpopular erstwhile Northern Arc, which the State of Georgia cancelled a decade ago due to intense public opposition to the project.

The project in question, the Gwinnett County government-commissioned extension of Sugarloaf Parkway from GA 316 in Dacula to Peachtree Industrial Blvd in Sugar Hill, was not actually a resurrection of the unpopular and much-hated Northern Arc, but because it was proposed to be constructed in the right-of-way of the cancelled Northern Arc (which Gwinnett County had mostly kept free of development for the purpose of one day building a local connector road through the Mall of Georgia area between Dacula and Sugar Hill), a growing number of people around the region thought that the road was indeed a resurrection of the much-hated erstwhile Northern Arc.

Colleen Kiernan, director of the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club, even wrote an article right here in the Saporta Report about this particular project that many including the Sierra Club, the NAACP, South Metro Atlanta residents and even Gwinnett County residents, Cherokee County residents, North Metro suburban Atlanta residents and North Georgia residents thought was a resurrection of the Northern Arc with T-SPLOST funding.

http://saportareport.com/blog/2011/10/metro-atlanta-turning-winning-season-for-transit-into-a-losing-one/

Just the presence of this one controversial road project alone that a growing number of voters thought was a resurrection of a very-unpopular Northern Arc highway from a decade ago was enough to send an already very-negative public opinion of the T-SPLOST spiraling even further out-of-control.

At least with the referendum being held on July 31st, the transportation policy debacle was ended early and not allowed to carry on for 3 more months.

Also, at the time that the State Legislature commissioned the 2012 T-SPLOST referendum back in 2010, the outgoing Sonny Perdue was (obviously for good reason) concerned about his legacy as governor and wanted to pass something so that he would not be regarded as a total failure on transportation (something that in the aftermath of the overwhelming failure of the T-SPLOST now looks to be the case).

So in a last-ditch attempt to avoid being regarded as a total and complete failure on transportation and going down in history as one of Georgia's worst-ever governors, Sonny Perdue pushed for the legislature (a legislature with whom he had very-poor relations, a legislature that itself would teeter on the verge of a total meltdown in one way or another for at least 2 more years) to pass something, anything on transportation as an attempt to savage his legacy.

With the piss-poor way that the referendum was poorly thought-out and put together and with the State Legislature's historical hostility to any transportation solution that does not involve laying down new pavement (preferably in rural areas of the state), it is completely understandable why you and many others would think that the legislature designed the referendum to fail.

But the State Legislature did not intentionally design the T-SPLOST referendum to fail. 

The State Legislature unintentionally designed the T-SPLOST to fail basically because as a group they were a bunch of highly-dysfunctional morons who wanted the public, the media and the business community to leave them alone so that they could go back to chasing lobbyist money and gifts without the public pestering them to do something about traffic.

So they slapped something together and passed it and declared that something big had been done about transportation so that their perennial pursuit of sex, money and power would never again have to be interrupted by people demanding they do they their jobs.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@AtlantaAnnie {{"Let the record show that most large urban regions that are "ahead" of us in transportation had to go through multiple voter referenda (including failures) before they reached their ultimate successful effort."}}

...That is true, but most of the areas where the voter referendum-approach to transportation-funding have ultimately been successful have been west of the Mississippi River in large urban regions where the winning referendum was held mostly in one or maybe 2 or 3 counties at the absolute most.

If a metro region has a transportation issue where MORE than only one, two or three counties are affected (not to mention 10, 20, 30 counties as is the case in the Greater Metro Atlanta which stretches over an area of roughly 30 counties in North Georgia), state government is usually involved, NOT by way of voter referendum, but with actually funding and oversight of a large metro regional network of streetcars, buses, heavy rail transit, commuter rail transit, and multiple user fee-funded/toll roads (as is the case in multiple large urban regions in the Eastern U.S. where the referendum approach to transportation funding is not popular because funding of multimodal transportation options is NOT optional in large highly-populated road infrastructure-challenged Eastern urban regions like Philadelphia, Washington-Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and ESPECIALLY, New York-New Jersey-Connecticut.

{{"Our region appears to be so discombobulated that we figure we are going to give up after the first major setback!"}}

...The problem is not necessarily that the Atlanta region is discombobulated, the problem is that 10 metro counties is entirely too many counties to involve in transportation funding referendums that work best when only ONE highly-populated urban county with one transportation agenda is involved, NOT 10 highly-populated metro counties with 10 differing transportation agendas.

And it is not the Atlanta region that is going to give up after one very-major setback, it is the wayward Georgia State Legislature that is going to give up after the public overwhelmingly rejected the referendum approach to transportation funding that the Georgia State Legislature hastily commissioned apparently without much nuanced thought or consideration of what they were setting in motion.

After the overwhelming rejection of the referendum approach to transportation funding by an angry public, the State Legislature, for its own political good, is highly-unlikely to ever again commission a series of or even one regional transportation referendum.

It MIGHT be different if the transportation referendum had failed by only 1 or 2 points, but the failure of the transportation referendum by nearly 25 percentage points (with much doubt by many of those in the minority who voted yes) makes it crystal clear that the regional referendum approach to transportation funding is clearly not compatible with or appropriate for the unique political climate in the Atlanta region and the state of Georgia.

There are many ways to fund transportation needs, a severely-flawed and poorly thought-out regional referendum with entirely too many counties is NOT one of them.

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

@Native Atlanta Boy  

First of the plethora of misinformation you spew is that projects would not start for 20 years.  As I recall, the tax only lasted for 10 years so that is blatantly false.  The CID contribution to the 400/285 interchange is less than 1%.  Also, as I recall, the tolls are coming down on GA400 quite soon so it would be hard to see it funding 285/400 unless you are saying the tolls should continue, and the 85/400 interchange money was allocated previous to the vote and was not included in the list of projects.  You advocate for Tax Allocation Districts (TADS) , and then malign the Beltline for doing just that.  Just screaming "no new taxes" isnt going to cut it if a reasonable plan is put forward.  Also, because you say/hear it...doesnt make it true

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Native Atlanta Boy You also make a good point about MARTA having access to more financial resources than may be apparent as MARTA has substantial land holdings around many of its transit stations that it could (and should have) been leasing-out to private interests for the construction of revenue-producing mixed-use transit-oriented development like has been the case around the Lindbergh MARTA Station.

MARTA also could have (and should have) been taking in far more in operational revenues over the years if the transit agency had utilized a inflation-indexed distance-based fare structure instead of utilizing a flat-rate fare structure and intentionally depressing that flat-rate fare structure while demanding increased funding from a state government that already vastly underfunds the road network.

MARTA's peer transit agency, Northern California's BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) funds 78% of its operating costs with a combination distance-based/zone-based fare structure that charges as much as $11.05 for a one-way ride of nearly 50 miles between the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART Station in the Sacramento River Delta area of the East Bay region and San Francisco International Airport.

{{"Fare-paying customers account for 78% of the operating funds in the FY13 budget. The second largest source of operating revenue, dedicated money from sales taxes, is expected to increase by 5%."}}

http://www.bart.gov/news/articles/2012/news20120614a.aspx

JB
JB

@Native Atlanta Boy The Atlanta region didn't get much in the way of competitive stimulus dollars (TIGER grants, etc.) because as a region it doesn't have its act together.

Schools do NOT get enough money. Unless you consider 48th in the nation for graduation rates and SAT scores "success." Look to the North - higher taxes, better results. You get what you pay for (or don't pay for).

Developers are not going to fund roads if they do not get something in return - private roads are not any cheaper for the public because they have to turn a profit somehow.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Native Atlanta Boy Good comments, but don't ask me where the Obama stimulus money went because I'm a political Independent.  The word "Democrat" is only part of my screen name, NOT my political affiliation.

Otherwise, I completely agree that there are other ways to raise funding for transportation improvements other than simply raising taxes...Other ways like user fees (tolls on major roads and adequately-priced distance-based and zone-based fares on bus and rail transit, private financing, etc).

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@MandoTrey  Can I ask you and others a question - It is hypothetical - How are you going to get a transit rail line that runs from Norcross (Technology Park) to Alpharetta / Roswell (Northpoint Parkway to Marietta (Platinum Triangle). All large office / economic complexes. Many employers, jobs, both direct & ancillary. 

There are no historic railroad right of ways.  No space to put the lines.  

To have someone travel all the way to Limburgh to catch a North Springs train, then a bus that runs up NorthPoint Pkwy is not a real option.  Same holds to go down to a MARTA station to catch a Cobb Transit bus.  Or reverse the route and try to travel to Technology Park in Norcross.

People have to travel by car, van, car pool something to travel from where they live to the jobs at the three mentioned mega office parks.  And there are dozens of office parks ringing Atlanta.

We have had millions of dollars wasted trying to prop up MARTA.  Economic development along the lines has been weak.  BellSouth was politically brow beat to build at Limburgh.  No development on any of the west line, save the GWCC, DOME, Phillips Arena (all government).  Nothing really on the southside or downtown.  Underground has floundered and it is next door to MARTA's CROWN - Five Points.

So MARTA has really no economic draw.  Political correctness & necessity yes, economics, no.

So why would anyone want to tax taxpayer money from around the REGION and spend it on Beltline (Atlanta), Streetcars (Atlanta), and many of the Atlanta centric projects. I WILL TELL YOU - Politicians, because it is politically correct to bow the Atlanta's desire.  All politicians must bow to Atlanta.  Hail Atlanta!!!

Well T-SPLOT was a cold slap of reality.  Atlanta is but one piece in the metro puzzle.  A big piece to be sure, but just one.  Atlanta must sit down with all the other pieces and work out a plan that benefits the REGION not a PIECE.  And Atlanta doesn't like it.  Know how I know.

Because Atlanta can't even agree on how to divide the sales tax revenues with the 13 other cities in Fulton County.  It is currently based on population.  Atlanta has not grown that much.  Roswell has.  Roswell wants it fair share.  Atlanta disagrees.  Roswell and others are suing.  Guess who set up the formula to divide the sale tax revenue - ATLANTA!  Guess who complained the last time - Atlanta. Guess who lost in court - Atlanta.

Atlanta is not a "REGIONAL" player.  Atlanta wants to play with the "REGIONS" money!  Ain't gonna happen!!!

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@MandoTrey Those are excellent points, as the Atlanta region most definitely needs a much larger and much more consistent revenue funding stream for transit, particularly for an upgraded and expanded rail-anchored transit network over the long-term.

But the critical importance of funding bus transit upgrades and expansions should not and cannot be discounted.

That's because upgrading and expanding bus transit in the immediate and near-term builds ridership and sets the stage for rail transit expansion in the long-term, particularly in the dominant but highly-populated and congestion-plagued suburbs outside of I-285 where there is a severe need for transit to be expanded but not necessarily the most intense want for transit to be expanded from the most-dominant quarters.

Selectively expanding bus transit (WITH GREAT CARE) in these traditionally transit-averse areas outside of I-285 can make transit use increasingly more politically, socially and culturally acceptable there and set the stage for rail transit expansion into those areas at a future date when it becomes politically, socially and culturally feasible in those areas.  

Buses can play a very-important role in making use of public transit much more acceptable in outlying areas where use of public transit has traditionally been frowned on and looked down upon with great derision.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@mariasaporta  Excellent points, Ms. Saporta.

Though, by most accounts, the majority of residents already want more transit in outlying suburban counties like Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Clayton, Douglas and the like.

It is only a relatively small and shrinking but still very politically-dominant contingent of staunchly anti-transit interests that are a major part of the reason why those often severely-congested outlying suburban counties don't have adequate access to transit infrastructure at this late date in a Greater Atlanta region that stretches over nearly 30 counties in North Georgia and has a population that has grown over the 6 million inhabitant mark.

Also, with the often extremely severe traffic congestion that plagues outlying suburban areas, OTP counties like Cobb, Gwinnett, Rockdale, Clayton, Douglas, and the like, are already in very-serious need of more transit (than just a few express commuter buses each day) and have been in very serious need of more transit for at least the past 15 years when Greater Atlanta's regional population hovered around the 4 million inhabitant mark.

The rejection by the voting public of a highly-flawed and misguided piece of horrific transportation policy at the state level does not negate the very serious need for both transit and road upgrades where each are applicable.

moliere
moliere

@Atlanesman Just because the facts are unpopular doesn't mean that they aren't facts. Don't you realize that T-SPLOST failed in other areas of the state because the anti-tax activists lied and claimed that the money would be used for MARTA? Now tell me why voters in places like Valdosta, Bainbridge and Brunswick voted against their own badly needed transportation projects - i.e. facilities upgrades at airports that have been practically abandoned for years to make them viable to transport freight - because of the absolute horror of their tax dollars going to MARTA? Better yet, tell me why voters in those very poor areas believe that Atlanta, which generates more tax revenue than the rest of those places combined and even redistributes its own tax revenue from those areas, wants or needs their tax revenue for MARTA or anything else to begin with? Now gee, how on earth can we explain something so irrational? The same way that we can explain how the state GOP just recently abandoned their quest to strip control of Hartsfield from the city of Atlanta using nonsense charges that the busiest, most successful airport in the world, one of the few airports to turn a real and substantial operating profit, was mismanaged and being run into the ground. You tell me why those utterly false charges existed, Democrat, and why so many people believed them and still believe them to this day despite all the evidence to the contrary. Sorry, but if that isn't cause and effect, what is? Before the Tea Party Patriots saw that they could improve their image by presenting themselves as part of a "bipartisan coalition" with the NAACP and Sierra Club, they were really laying the coded language on thick, calling T-SPLOST a plot to redistribute wealth from the suburbs to the city and an Obama-esque bailout for MARTA. That was in their own literature. But you're absolutely correct ... it had nothing to do with it, right? Sickening I suppose ... 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County {{{"Regional transportation is not STREET CARS or a BELTLINE in DOWNTOWN ATLANTA.  If is fixing I-285 / GA400 interchange which effects thousands & thousands of people in the region every day.  It's smoothing out the transition from I-285 west to I-75 north.  Figuring out why the i-675 S to I-75 south always backs up.  Jimmy Carter Blvd and I-85.  Holcomb Bridge at GA400.  These bottle necks affect citizens from several metro counties every day.  Yet none were a priority."}}}

...This is an excellent passage and an excellent point.

But, the hard truth is that at this point, smoothing out busy transitions and bottlenecks (like the I-75/I-285 NW Cobb Cloverleaf, the transition from I-675 South to I-75 South and interchanges at I-85 & Jimmy Carter Blvd and GA 400 & GA 140 Holcomb Bridge Rd that you mentioned) will most likely involve an extremely-heavy transit and congestion pricing element that many Metro Atlantans may not necessarily be comfortable with at this point.

The reason why smoothing out these and other severely-congested freeway transitions and bottlenecks will most likely involve an extremely-heavy transit and congestion pricing element is because those and most other roadways throughout the region are both physically-constrained by very-heavy existing development close to the right-of-ways of those severely-congested roadways and politically-constrained by a public opinion that can often be somewhat averse to anything that is viewed by the public as being a large-scale roadway expansion that destroys the very-popular heavily-wooded tree buffers that line most stretches of OTP Metro Atlanta freeways.

With very-little, if any, land or right-of-way remaining to expand severely-congested roadways (like the I-75/I-285 NW Cobb Cloverleaf that has already been massively expanded to handle much more traffic nearly 30 years ago during the massive "Freeing-the-Freeways" widening campaign of the 1980's), and with public opinion not necessarily being on the side of additional large-scale road expansions, the 6 million-inhabitant Atlanta region has no choice but to deal with its traffic issues by both upgrading and expanding its currently severely-lacking bare-bones transit network and using congestion pricing to create travel space on existing roadways that are both physically and politically unexpandable in most cases.

moliere
moliere

@Wish for MIlton County

You are hilarious. You classify all the projects that don't do a thing for downtown as regional projects, and all the projects that benefit downtown as political graft. News flash: downtown, the city of Atlanta and south Fulton was included on the list too, as was south and middle DeKalb. So you wanted their tax dollars to pay for your projects but you don't want your tax dollars to pay for theirs? 

Here is some of your nonsense. "Figuring out why the i-675 S to I-75 south always backs up." Why on earth should voters in Hall or Gwinnett County pay for that? "fixing I-285 / GA400 interchange/smoothing out the transition from I-285 west to I-75 North/Jimmy Carter Blvd and I-95/Holcomb Bridge at GA 400." Individually or even collectively, there was no reason for a large swath of the metro area to pay for those projects, especially if you live/work/play south of I-285 and west of Cobb/Gwinnett/Cherokee/north Fulton. It is regional to you but non-regional to a lot of us. 

I am sorry, but "helping the most metro citizens" doesn't wash. If everyone in the metro area pays the tax, then everyone in the metro area has to get a significant, substantial benefit. The idea of taking money from intown people to fund suburban highways that intown people are almost never going to use is ridiculous. 

And so is the fact that the OTP folks constantly ignore how much intown contributes to the region. Intown may not have the multi-million dollar homes or the corporate regional offices, but Hartsfield is there. Georgia Tech, Emory and Georgia State are there. CDC is there. The Georgia Dome, the Georgia World Congress Center, Turner Field and Philips Arena are there. And yes, Grady and MARTA are there, as is the state capitol and most of the vital state government buildings. Without intown there would be no metro area in the first place. (By contrast, intown would do fine without the metro area, just like it did before the suburban boom began in the 80s in the first place.) Intown actually does have infrastructure and institutions that serve the entire metro area. Meanwhile the suburban counties only maintain their little fiefdoms that only benefit themselves. Which means that intown does more for Gwinnett than Cobb does. Because Cobb looks out for Cobb and Gwinnett looks out for Gwinnett, intown has to take on responsibilities that benefit both Cobb and Gwinnett (like constructing and maintaining the region's only passenger airport for starters) without getting a bit of credit for it. That's why a regional plan had to include intown, because intown is the only part of the region that does things to benefit people in the region other than itself! 

And yes, money for transit projects intown like MARTA and the Beltline would benefit the suburbs, because intown transit removes hundreds of thousands of cars off the downtown connector (curiously missing from your list of "regional" projects even though tons of commuters use it to get to and from downtown from their suburban homes each day), 400, 285 etc. daily. Further, the point of the Beltline is to create spaces where people wouldn't have to drive at all. Folks commute from the suburbs to Atlanta because there aren't enough desirable places in the city to live and recreate. The Beltline would give them that, and in the process get them off your precious highways so that you will have more space to drive on it. That is how the rail projects and the highway projects intersect. Get more people who live and work in the city to ride public transit and that will mean less congestion for people who live in the suburbs but work in the city and vice versa. But don't you worry. When the Beltline is completed, it will be  yet another major infrastructure project that benefits the entire region that you folks in the suburbs will refuse to acknowledge. While still refusing to contribute squat - not even so much as a small passenger airport or a   suburban multi-county highway thoroughfare - to help the region yourselves. Just like always. 

wadew
wadew

@Wish for MIlton County 

Oh really? So, you want to live in car-dependent, low-density sprawl and have no traffic?

You want to be able to live wherever you want, regardless of the fact that low-density sprawl doesn't generate enough tax revenue to maintain its own roads -- regardless of the fact that car-dependent places create their own traffic problems -- and then you want to have the public at large bail you out of your traffic? You want to get a handout from Big Daddy Government that allows you to live in your economically inefficient sprawlburg but have less car traffic?

How nice for you.

That Beltline project downtown serves a high-density, mixed-use area that actually generates a great amount of revenue per square mile. Versus, say, Habersham Oaks subdivision in north suburbia which generates very little revenue with its declining home values (despite getting mortgage assistance from Big Daddy Government that intown renters don't get)

Yes, I see why there can never be a T-SPLOST type solution for the metro. Too many people want a big highway handout to help them live their traffic-producing lives in sprawl towns that aren't able to pay their own way in terms of their own transportation infrastructure.

AtlantaAnnie
AtlantaAnnie

@The Last Democrat in Georgia @AtlantaAnnie 

Interesting points, but our "institutional infrastructure" has been based on the 10 ARC counties for many years - none of what you stated is new or should have been news to our so-called regional leaders.  Pointing the finger at a bunch of do-nothing state legislators is not new either....regions that are on the upswing DO NOT wait for the dawn to break over their State House...what I'm saying is we keep trying the same old things led by the same old people with the same old perspectives and we're getting nowhere fast.....time for some re-thinking of our processes, institutions, and leaders.......

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Native Atlanta Boy The 78% of operating costs that a prospering BART covers with a much more adequately-priced combination distance-based/zone-based fare structure that automatically rises with inflation (so that fare revenues always cover close to 80% of operating costs) is in contrast to a severely financially-struggling MARTA which only covers about 30% of its operating costs with a depressed flat-rate fare structure that does not keep up with inflation.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@JB @Native Atlanta Boy Those are good points, particularly the point you made about school funding.

You also make a good point about developers not funding roads unless they get something in return in the form of profits.

But there are many cases where private developers will agree and have agreed to fund improvements to public roads in the immediate area of their developments so that people can get to and from their developments and they can make a profit.

There are also cases where private interests are funding public roads (through public-private partnerships) by term-leasing major roads from the public.

Examples:  In 2004, Cintra-Macquarie, a Spanish-Australian transportation consortium, paid $1.8 billion to lease the 7.8 mile-long Chicago Skyway from the City of Chicago for 99 years. 

In 2006, Cintra-Macquarie also paid $3.8 billion to lease the 157 mile-long Indiana Toll Road from the State of Indiana for 75 years.

In exchange for getting to keep all toll revenues and set toll rates as they please, Cintra-Macquarie is responsible for all design, construction, operational and maintenance costs.

You make a good point that private roads are not any cheaper for the public because private roads have to turn a profit somehow.

But public roads are really not necessarily that cheap either as much of the costs of public roads has been and continues to be financed with extremely-heavy borrowing, particularly by federal and state government.

Federal and state government has had to finance road construction with heavy borrowing because they have refused to raise fuel taxes to keep pace with inflation of construction and maintenance costs pretty much employing the same per-gallon fuel tax rates that were employed 40 years ago when the population was much less, the economy was much smaller, there were a lot fewer drivers and much less transportation needs than today.

Like private roads, public roads are not necessarily cheap either, its just that the government has been hiding the TRUE COST of what it actually takes to design, build, operate and maintain those roads by not collecting enough in user fees as a means of attempting to keep voters happy (the old "Something for Nothing" political trick...make voters think that they're getting something for nothing and they'll keep voting for you and your party).

Heck, the State of Georgia by way of the Georgia Department of Transportation has so much in debt service payments on past debt (mainly on former Governor Sonny Perdue's $15.5 billion Fast Forward mostly-rural transportation initiative from the mid-2000's) that it is threatening to eat the state's entire transportation budget alive.

That's because the State of Georgia collects far too little in fuel tax revenues (and user fees, etc) to fund the growing transportation needs of a centrally-located fast-growing state of 10 million people.

Collecting far too little in fuel tax revenues is something that the State of Georgia has done throughout most of its existence, particularly during the post-World War II era during a time when the state has experienced exponentially explosive population growth.

Georgia has always been behind in transportation funding during the post-World War II era, particularly when it comes to funding transportation needs in and around the state's largest and fastest-growing metro region of Atlanta (the money to reconstruct Metro Atlanta's freeway system in the 1980's came from the Feds in exchange for the State of Georgia agreeing to install HOV-2 carpool lanes on the reconstructed freeways at a later date).

The lack of adequate transportation funding in the Metro Atlanta region has become even more apparent now that Greater Atlanta's regional population has eclipsed the 6 million mark and there seems to be a dramatically decreasing amount of space for automobiles on the roadways.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County @MandoTrey If one wanted to get from either the Windward Parkway/GA 400 or North Point Mall areas they would board a local circulating bus shuttle or a local vanpool shuttle directly out in front or near their originating location at a local business and ride to a train/bus station either at Windward Parkway & GA 400 or in the North Point Mall area where they would transfer to a southbound GA 400 heavy rail train.

One would ride that GA 400 Southbound heavy rail train down to a station in the Perimeter Center area (at either Perimeter Mall or Pill Hill) where they would exit the train and transfer to a westbound I-285 heavy rail train that would take them to the Cumberland/Galleria area where one would exit the train and transfer to a local circulating shuttle bus or local vanpool shuttle that would take them very-near or to their final destination.

The State of Georgia actually has long-term plans to construct and implement a rail transit across the I-285 Top End Perimeter corridor between the Cumberland Mall/Galleria area and the Doraville MARTA Station.

The current plans (which are completely unfunded and inactive) call for either bus rapid transit or light rail transit to implemented on a new transit right-of-way (that has yet to be secured or purchased) between Cumberland Mall and Doraville MARTA Station.

But with further large-scale widening or expansion of I-285 being somewhat unlikely and maybe even impossible at this point because of heavy existing development that sits close to a right-of-way that is lined with thickly-wooded tree buffers whose destruction the politically-powerful young cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody might object heavily to, it seems highly-likely that the proposed transit line across the Top End I-285 Perimeter will likely be upgraded to a heavy rail transit line over the long-term because of the inability to further expand the I-285 roadway on a large-scale.

The lack of a high-capacity rail transit line along the severely heavily-congested I-285 Top End Perimeter between Cobb County and Gwinnett County on the project list was one reason (of many) that often and repeatedly came up as to why Northside voters did not support the T-SPLOST.

Here is a link to a page that describes plans for proposed transit stations along the proposed I-285 Top End Perimeter rail transit line in detail as part of the currently unfunded and inactive revive285 plans to expand the Top End of the I-285 Perimeter in some way, shape or form:

http://www.revive285.com/f/TSPSAInfoSheets.pdf

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County

@MandoTrey

{{{"Can I ask you and others a question - It is hypothetical - How are you going to get a transit rail line that runs from Norcross (Technology Park) to Alpharetta / Roswell (Northpoint Parkway to Marietta (Platinum Triangle). All large office / economic complexes. Many employers, jobs, both direct & ancillary. 

There are no historic railroad right of ways.  No space to put the lines.  

To have someone travel all the way to Limburgh to catch a North Springs train, then a bus that runs up NorthPoint Pkwy is not a real option.  Same holds to go down to a MARTA station to catch a Cobb Transit bus.  Or reverse the route and try to travel to Technology Park in Norcross.

People have to travel by car, van, car pool something to travel from where they live to the jobs at the three mentioned mega office parks.  And there are dozens of office parks ringing Atlanta."}}}

...That is an excellent question and an excellent point asking how one would get from the Technology Park area of Norcross to the emerging employment center in the North Point Parkway area of Alpharetta/North Fulton to the Platinum Triangle/Cumberland/Galleria area on transit.

Under a much-improved transportation scheme where all forms of transportation (bus transit, rail transit and roads) are improved between those 3 large regional employment centers, if one wanted to get from the Technology Park area of Norcross to the Platinum Triangle area on transit, one would:

Board either a bus (as part of the much-improved bus service that ran down GA Hwy 141 from the Cumming area) or make use of a vanpool or local circulating shuttle service that would feed into an underground multimodal transit station (that was located under a mixed-use transit-oriented development that would help subsidize the transit line it is located on with revenues from real estate leases and excess property taxes only on that one building that were dedicated to transit) in or near the historic village area in Downtown Norcross on a high-capacity rail transit line (likely a heavy rail transit line) that ran roughly between Downtown Gainesville in the I-85/I-985 NE corridor and Downtown Cartersville in the I-75 NW corridor;

After exiting the GA 141 bus or Technology Park area circulating shuttle at the underground multimodal transit station in historic Downtown Norcross one would transfer to a heavy rail train headed from an origination point in Downtown Gainesville and headed towards a final destination of Downtown Cartersville by way of a combination above-grade (elevated)/below-grade heavy rail line that follows across the I-285 Top End Perimeter corridor.

The portion of the line that ran along the I-285 Top End Perimeter area would stations in Doraville (near the current Doraville MARTA Station), Dunwoody, Perimeter Center, Northside/St. Joseph/Scottish Rite Hospitals (Pill Hill), near Downtown Sandy Springs, Northside Drive/Powers Ferry Road area and in the Cumberland/Galleria area.

It is in the Cumberland/Galleria area where one would exit the Gainesville-Cartersville I-285 Top End Perimeter heavy rail train and transfer to a local circulating bus shuttle or vanpool that served the Cumberland/Galleria business district.

If one wanted to get from the Technology Park area of Norcross to the North Point Mall or Windward Parkway areas of Alpharetta, they would board a local vanpool or local circulating bus shuttle in Technology Park and ride to a stop on GA Hwy 140 where they would transfer to a westbound bus on a GA 140/Holcomb Bridge Road bus rapid transit-like bus line that they would ride over to a multimodal transportation station near the junction of GA Hwy 140 Holcomb Bridge Road and GA Hwy 400.

It is here at the multimodal station at GA 140 & GA 400 where one would transfer to a northbound heavy rail train located within (likely elevated over) the GA 400 right-of-way headed towards Cumming and take that northbound train to either a stop at North Point Mall or a stop at Windward Parkway where one would transfer to either a local circulating bus shuttle or a local circulating vanpool shuttle that connected people with local stops at businesses and the regional train/bus station.

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@The Last Democrat in Georgia @Wish for MIlton County YOu make some great points. 

 The truth is that sometimes you have to take responsibility for your own part of the world.  For instance Holcomb Bridge Rd at GA400 is Roswell's major interchange with GA400.  Traffic counts are always in the metro top 5.  Major commuting hub for north Fulton, parts of northern DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb & Cherokee counties.  Yet this interchange was very low on T-SPLOT lists.

Holcomb Bridge Rd is actually GA-140 a state road, along with GA-400.  State should maintain & improve these roads.  City of Roswell has embarked on a multi million dollar project to upgrade this interchange.  They could not wait for T-SPLOT.  Much of the money will come from the City of Roswell. Some from G-DOT, ARC, etc...  But it will help citizens of Roswell and the afore mentioned counties.  So Roswell is taking a lead on a "regional" & "local" project.

Same is holding true for GA-9 (Roswell Rd / Atlanta St / Alpharetta Hwy).  Roswell is undertaking a major revision on the Atlanta St portion of Ga-9.  Roswell has upgraded portions of the Alpharetta St & Alpharetta Hwy portion of GA-9. This project affects Roswell greatly, but also commuters trying to get to Sandy Springs, or East Cobb via GA-120.  Roswell Rd is also 1 of 3 ways to get over the river.  Very much a regional transportation bottleneck.

Projects like this are happening or scheduled to start all over metro Atlanta.  Maybe these various projects should be put on a T-SPLOT list.  Maybe metro Atlanta should be broken into subsections with T-SPOLTS for each seciton.  Then monies would flow to help more local / regional issues.

All I am saying is I get it.  I am not really OK with my tax funds going to a project in Palmetto.  And Palmetto is in the same county I am, Fulton, But about 70 miles away from me.

Unfortunately, this may never happen, because politicians do not want "LOCAL CONTROL".  They want to feather their own nests.  Do favors for some at the expense of most.

Very Sad if yo think about it!

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@moliere @Wish for MIlton County  WOW!!!  Want a rant!  - You really don't like OTPers do you.  So for the sake of argument, lets go over your list of Wonders in downtown Atlanta and within the City.

Hartsfield - paid for by the airlines. Georgia Tech - state entity - Pays no property taxes, Emory - private school located in Decatur / DeKalb county - not sure it it pays property taxes. Georgia State - gobbling up real estate downtown - state entity - does not pay property taxes. CDC - federal agency - does not pay property taxes. The Georgia Dome - GWCC entity - Run by The Falcons - does not pay property taxes, Georgia World Congress Center - state entity - does not pay property taxes, Turner Field  -state or city entity run by the Braves - does not pay property taxes, Philips Arena - GWCC entity run by The Hawks - does not pay property taxes. Grady - Fulton DeKalb Entity - does not pay property taxes, make money, yet funds make work jobs. MARTA - Ditto.  Yes if you list all the government building, federal, state, county and city, they all take up property.  Do not pay property taxes. And are filled with more people than jobs needed to perform the chartered functions.

If you look at all the real property that these non property tax paying entities are sitting on, I think you will look at your property tax bill differently.  I, of course, are assuming you pay property taxes.

You have listed all the property and jobs that the taxpayers of the United States, Georgia, and Fulton County have provided through their hard work, creativity, and capitalism.  So, thank all the taxpayers, including the much hated OTPers, that continue to fund & support all the goverment building & jobs even if they do not want them.  Or want less of them.

Oh, if you don't pay property taxes, then we need to find a way that you and others who don't pay property taxes, can fund all the government infastructure you enjoy.  

That way you can enjoy them all the more!


Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@moliere

You have the typical City of Atlanta blinders on.

Those of us who have lived in Metro Atlanta for many years, including time in the City of Atlanta, were not born under cabbage leaves. We know how tax money disappears down a rat hole in the City with nothing accomplished. The voters  rightly discerned that too much of the proposed additional tax revenue was to be concentrated in the City where it would directly benefit on a daily basis fewer than 8% of Metro residents. Plus the proposal included 15% of the revenue to bribe the cities and counties for their support, with few restrictions on what the 15% could be used for. (Hint - it wouldn't have been transportation.)

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@wadew @Wish for MIlton County   Well wadew - Fulton County alone is 70+ miles long.  The metro area is how large????  The fact that metro Atlanta was and is a "car" town, it seems we need to take care of the bottle necks in the regional traffic grid.

Again THE BELTLINE will help only those few who live near it.  If you want it, pay for it thru some revenue measure.  Don't ask a family living in Powder Springs, Mableton, Tucker, Milton, Duluth, Lithonia, Stone Mountain, Covington, etc... to pay for a trail 20+ miles or more from their house.  The BELTLINE and STREET CARS are not a "REGIONAL" project, they are an EAST ATLANTA project.

So for those who want to live intown, GREAT!!!  Good for you.  Have fun. Many of us don't want that life style and we pay many more taxes for the lifestyle we want.  We actually pay for our grass & trees, parks, greenways, bike trails, etc....  We don't believe we asked Atlanta to pay for them.

As for revenue per mile, I believe North Fulton is the piggy bank for Fulton County.  The county gets millions of dollars in property tax and delivers little to no service in the area.  I think that is big political fight right now in Fulton County.  A fight that needs to be watched in DeKalb, Atlanta, and other counties.  Taxation vs representation... The two are out of sync.

As for the BIG HIGHWAY handouts.  Gas tax was suppose to pay for roads.  It was the first USE tax I believe.  Now if the tax is to low to generate enough revenues, then maybe it needs to be raised.  If I am mistaken, gas tax revenue is down because the economy is down, cars & trucka are more fuel efficient, and people are scheduling their driving times more efficiently and living closer to where they work. Gee, what a concept.  People move where the jobs are.  Lots of folks have moved the the "northern suburbia" because the jobs are out there.  Why is that - think LIFESTYLE.

There are over 5 million people in metro Atlanta now.  The cost of building heavy rail MARTA was pegged at over $7 million per mile when the North Springs addition was built.  Putting MARTA all over, will never happen.  So the metro area uses buses for most of the mass transit.  Buses run up and down what???  Let's say it together - ROADS???  So to get the buses running on time, we have to fix the BOTTLENECKS in the REGIONAL TRAFFICE GRID.

So, sorry the near and mid term solution is fixing the traffic bottlenecks.  T-SPLOT did not address these issues.  Voters saw that and wanted nothing to do with it.

twotom
twotom

@wadew@Wish for MIlton CountyNicely-stated. Suburban sprawl is not an economically-sustainable development model without massive road subsidies from general service funds. Those who think a regional approach to solving our transportation woes must emphasize added subsidies for road-building are missing the point. I love the way the St. Louis campaign stated it: Transit. Some of us ride it. All of us need it.

Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@AtlantaAnnie

"what I'm saying is we keep trying the same old things led by the same old people with the same old perspectives and we're getting nowhere fast.....time for some re-thinking of our processes, institutions, and leaders"

I couldn't agree more. Our existing institutions and leaders are too content in their comfortable berths, and are more focused on keeping their berths than they are in progress. But, Sam Williams' retirement is a hopeful sign. Now, if the City voters would oust Hizzoner...

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@ScottNAtlanta @The Last Democrat in Georgia @Native Atlanta Boy Those are excellent points.

I agree that Governor Deal was right to back the state out of a long-term lease deal on the I-75 toll lanes due to the non-compete clause that would financially penalized the state for making improvements to parallel routes like US Hwy 41 (Cobb Parkway) and the state-owned Western & Atlantic Railroad where passenger trains are likely slated to run someday.

Your comments underscore the need to properly apply long-term lease agreements with care on the proper modes, preferably on multiple parallel transportation modes (like on all lanes of Interstates 75 & 575, US Hwy 41, high-capacity passenger rail service within the W&A Railroad right-of-way, bus/shuttle service in Cobb and Cherokee counties as opposed to only applying a term-lease agreement with a non-compete clause to a couple of reversible toll lanes on I-75).

The State of Texas is slowly moving forward with a "supercorridor" concept where parallel existing roads (freeway and surface road), future toll roads, future high-speed intercity passenger rail lines and adjoining high-profile real estate assets are term leased-out to a private investor/operator as a means of paying for large-scale multi-modal transportation improvements that the state likely would not be able to pay for otherwise.

Why should the state only get improvements in the form of a couple of reversible tolled lanes when the state can get improvements to so much more in the form of tolled carpool lanes, general purpose lanes, parallel surface routes, local and express bus service and passenger rail service on existing rail right-of-ways?

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

@The Last Democrat in Georgia @Native Atlanta Boy  

The only problem I have with these agreements is "non-compete" clauses that say the state cannot build out any new transit alternatives that might be seen as competing  with the tollway in question.  I know this has become an issue in Indiana, but not sure about CHI.  It was a major reason for delay on the I-75 toll lanes.  Gov Deal rightly refused due to such a clause being added by developers

moliere
moliere

@Atlanesman @moliere But note that you didn't refute anything that I said. Look, just because you had legitimate reasons for opposing T-SPLOST doesn't mean that everyone else did. Ignoring that is sickening. Just like ignoring why the suburbs left your Democratic Party for the GOP in the first place. 

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County @The Last Democrat in Georgia In addition to the total failure of the State of Georgia to fix one of its most-pressing transportation needs at the outdated I-285/GA 400 interchange (an interchange which should have been reconstructed over 20 years ago when the GA 400 Extension was built and should have used the revenues from the GA 400 tolls to do it), something else that is glaring is the total lack of a transit connection between the Cumberland/Galleria area around the I-75/I-285 NW Cobb Cloverleaf interchange and the Perimeter Center area around the I-285/GA 400 interchange.

The total lack of a (rail or even bus) transit connection between those two major employment and activity centers is very-glaring and very-concerning because the stretch of I-285 roadway between I-75 NW and GA 400 N (that carries roughly 300,000 vehicles each day and lacks even a minimal transit component in the form of an express bus) is one of the busiest stretches of roadway both in the state and in the entire nation.

The large volume of traffic that I-285 carries between the I-75 NW and GA 400 N interchanges is evidenced by the severe traffic delays that occur along the that stretch of roadway each day (even on weekends).

This is especially evidenced on I-285 Eastbound during morning rush hours where extremely heavy delays and virtual gridlock often causes traffic to back up on I-75 southbound from I-285 all the way back up to the Acworth area on many days.

On the worst days (days of a really bad traffic accident or inclement weather) it is not unusual for traffic to back-up in a state of total gridlock from the I-285/GA 400 interchange back up I-285 Eastbound and back up I-75 Southbound to beyond the GA 92 interchange in Acworth...a total of over 25 miles in traffic delays!

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County @The Last Democrat in Georgia What Texas is doing in its $5 billion reconstruction of the often severely-congested I-635 LBJ Loop across the Northside of Dallas is impressive.

But it should be noted that with a much-larger public aversion to large-scale road expansions in Georgia than in Texas, and with the right-of-way of the Top End of the I-285 Perimeter being closely lined with much existing commercial and residential development, and with some stretches of the I-285 Top End Perimeter being lined with popular heavily-wooded tree buffers through the affluent and politically-powerful city of Sandy Springs, any substantial increase in capacity in the I-285 Top End Perimeter corridor would likely have to involve the addition of new transit capacity (likely passenger rail transit) between I-75 NW and I-85 NE.

That's because any proposal for a traditional large-scale roadway expansion (in the form of widening) for that heavily-congested 13-mile stretch of the I-285 Top End Perimeter between I-75 NW and I-85 NE could maybe prove to be politically difficult, particularly if the roadway expansion proposal involves taking out any existing development or any of the very-popular heavily-wooded tree buffers through the affluent and politically-powerful cities of Sandy Springs and Dunwoody, two affluent cities that are politically-powerful enough to stop any roadway expansion project that they might be unhappy with.

Outside of the pending reconstruction of the design-flawed I-285/GA 400 interchange, any expansion of transportation capacity of the Top End I-285 Perimeter corridor is likely to involve a very-heavy congestion pricing element (either with the conversion of existing lanes to HOT lanes or the construction of new HOT lanes elevated above the existing roadway) and must and will likely involve a very-substantial transit expansion element (likely light or heavy passenger rail) that many Metro Atlantans may not necessarily be comfortable with at this particular point.

The almost total lack of available land on which to further expand the I-285 Top End Perimeter roadway amidst a fast-growing population that continues to far outgrow any new capacity that is added to the roadway means that there is no way around the reality that congestion pricing and passenger rail transit will very-likely have to be a major, if not dominant part of whatever large-scale east-west transportation solution is eventually implemented on the severely-congested I-285 Top End Perimeter.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@ @Wish for MIlton County Thank you for the good words, my friend.

In regards to the long-overdue reconstruction of the logistically-crucial I-285/GA 400 interchange, what's really embarrassing is that the State of Texas is CURRENTLY spending over $5 BILLION just to reconstruct the Interstate 635 Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway Loop across the Northside of Dallas.

The North Leg of the I-635 LBJ Loop is a severely heavily-congested roadway that serves a logistical function that is very much similar to the logistical function that the severely heavily-congested Top End I-285 Perimeter serves on the Northside of Atlanta.

In fact, the Top End of the I-285 Perimeter most likely serves a logistical function that is even more important than the North Leg of the I-635 LBJ Loop serves for the Northside of Dallas.

That's because unlike the I-635 LBJ Loop across the Northside of Dallas (which has numerous parallel east-west surface and freeway through routes that can serve as alternative east-west through routes for motorists), the Top End of the I-285 Perimeter has very few, if any, nearby parallel major through roads that can serve as alternative through routes for motorists traveling east-west between I-75 NW and I-85 NE.

I-285 is pretty much the only major east-west through option between I-75 NW and I-85 for several miles in each direction, a reality that makes the Top End Perimeter between I-75 NW and I-85 NE, particularly the GA 400 interchange, even that much more important.

The fact that the State of Georgia is unwilling to come up with only $450 million to start work on the long-overdue and critically-needed reconstruction project of just one of the state's busiest interchanges at I-285 and GA 400 is even more appalling when compared to the $5 BILLION that the State of Texas is spending to reconstruct an entire 17-mile stretch of roadway of similarly critical-importance in the North Leg of the I-635 LBJ Loop.

Here is a link to the website for the $5 billon LBJ Express project that is reconstructing 17 miles of the severely heavily-congested I-635 LBJ Loop across the heavily-populated Northside of Dallas: http://www.lbjexpress.com/

On the website there are links to explanations and videos of the project, including this latest virtual video flyover rendering of the project: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rVpVUqeH0s  

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@The Last Democrat in Georgia @Wish for MIlton County  Another great point and one I failed to mention.  The Peremiter Center Association (for lack of the real name) has decided to put $10,000,000 of their hard earned money into trying to fix / replace / reenginer the I-285 / GA-400 interchange.

They know it affects thousands of people every day.  They know its the major gateway to their area.  An area that has more office space then downtown Nashville, Charlotte, Birmingham, etc... and the list goes on.  A major, major economic engine for Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, and Gwinett.

Yet T-SPLOT had this interchange in thier 2022 - 2024 list.  Yet another bone headed / stupid / Altanta Blinders decision.

Why is it that these so called experts.  The ones that are on the taxpayer dole, can't find their head to put on their hat.  The reason is all politics.  Curring favor with someone elses money.  And simply being to SMART that they are DUMB.

@The Last Democrat in Georgia - I tip my hat at your knowledge & research!

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County @The Last Democrat in Georgia {{{"Holcomb Bridge Rd is actually GA-140 a state road, along with GA-400.  State should maintain & improve these roads."}}}

...Very well stated.  Those roads are state roads, the State of Georgia should be coming up with the money to properly maintain any and every road with a state, federal or Interstate-numbered shield on it.

City and county governments should not have to come up with money on their own to make improvements to STATE-maintained roads.

If the state is not going to pay to maintain its own roads then why does the state even bother to keep them under its jurisdiction? 

If the state is not going to even bother to pay to maintain its own roads then they should just take the state-numbered shields off of roads like Highways 9, 140 and 400 and turn those roads over to the local governments of the municipalities they run through like has been done in many other cities (Nashville, Indianapolis and Raleigh being chief amongst them) where control of state-maintained roads has been turned over to local governments.

{{{"City of Roswell has embarked on a multi million dollar project to upgrade this interchange.  They could not wait for T-SPLOT.  Much of the money will come from the City of Roswell. Some from G-DOT, ARC, etc...  But it will help citizens of Roswell and the afore mentioned counties.  So Roswell is taking a lead on a "regional" & "local" project."}}}

...Here's some footage from WSB-TV about the City of Roswell having no choice but to take the lead on paying for improvements at the intersection of TWO STATE-MAINTAINED highways that the state itself absolutely refuses to take the lead in paying for:

http://www.wsbtv.com/videos/news/roswell-leaders-unveil-plans-for-holcomb-bridge/vcW3B/

And here are some links to videos and news stories about Perimeter Center area business owners agreeing to tax themselves in an attempt to get the flawed (and dangerous) I-285/GA 400 Interchange fixed sooner than the state's projected construction date of no earlier than 2031.  Perimeter Center area business had to agree to tax themselves in hopes of speeding up the long-overdue project after hopelessly waiting more than 20 years for the state to act:

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/22635639/local-group-works-to-improve-ga-400i-285-interchange

http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&aq=&oq=georgia+400%2fi-28&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4ADRA_enUS426US429&q=ga+400+i+285+interchange&gs_l=hp..0.0l2.0.0.0.13034...........0.&pbx=1

wade
wade

@Burroughston Broch @moliereThe amount of money in the TIA plan that went to Atlanta Beltline transit was certainly outsized and that was a big mistake. I agree with you there. I had major reservations about the fairness of the T-SPLOST project list.


I was responding purely to your ridiculous comments on corruption in the City of Atlanta. You're obviously a smart guy, Broch. Too smart to still be beholden to this "suburbs good, city bad" argument you've been spouting for years, particularly since, after incredible growth, there are so many places in the Metro Atlanta suburbs that now have the same concerns, troubles and needs that were long the domain of the city. 


That "suburbs good, city bad" argument was never accurate, but these days it's so far removed from reality that it's just bizarre.


Burroughston Broch
Burroughston Broch

@moliere

"Right -- because, of couse, the City of Atlanta is the rotten circle in the middle of a golden doughnut of political righteousness."

Those are your words, not mine. I would have selected different adjectives and, since I live in DeKalb, I am well aware that corruption and incompetence are not confined to the City of Atlanta..

I noticed that you didn't refute one thing I stated. Cat got your tongue?

wade
wade

@Burroughston Broch @moliere

Right -- because, of couse, the City of Atlanta is the rotten circle in the middle of a golden doughnut of political righteousness. "Malfunction Junction" compared to the faultless Suburbs of Freedom and Prudence. 


That old sentiment wasn't true 40 years ago when it was born from a rotten culture of discrimination and it isn't true today. Local politics are dirty to degrees that vary little throughout the metro. 
There is not much that is more ethically dirty, for instance, than the political maneuvering of decades past that sent state and federal money to the extensive highway system that birthed economically-inefficient, environmentally-destructive, traffic-spawning suburban sprawl. A highway system that also managed to gut Atlanta's Sweet Auburn district, leaving it for dead amidst the dead zone of the 75/85 overpass.

Wishing for Milton County
Wishing for Milton County

@ScottNAtlanta @Wish for MIlton County I don't get your point. Paying Gas Tax is a USER Tax.  Don't own a gas or desiel powered vehicle, don't Pay the tax.  Very Simple.  If you drive on a road and buy fuel, you are funding the road.

T-SPLOT stands for Transportation - SPecialLocalOptionTax.  It was to be a sales tax.  So, how is the Beltline - Transportation for the REGION?  A T-SPLOT tax for the City of Atlanta would be fine and Atlantans or those who purchase something within City of Atlanta can pay for the Beltline.

The town I live in paid for its own parks, nature trails, greenways, and bike trail.  We did so through a bond issue approved by the voters and funded by our property taxes and other fees. We did not ask the next town over to pay for it.  We did it ourselves and we have a very good, nationally recognized park & rec system because of it. 

All I am saying is for a "regional Tax" to work, the projects funded have to help a greater number of citizens in the "REGION".  In a democracy, noone is ever going to agree 100%.  But we try to work together for the "greater good".

So to prioritize a park in Atlanta over an out of date interchange on I-285, does not make "REGIONAL" sense.  And I do not use this interchange on a daily or weekly basis.  But it must be updated becasue it is unsafe, creates a bottleneck and affects commuters from at least 3 counties.  Including commuters on "MARTA & GRTA buses!

Finally to your point about contributing. I have paid for MARTA for 27 years and rarely use it.   There are no trains or buses that are convienent to use.  But I see fellow citizens using it to get to their jobs, so I grin and pay the tax.  

But when I read that MARTA is loosing millions of dollars from gate jumpers, overtime scams, sick leave scams, cell phone scams, etc... and the list goes on, I get mad.  Mostly because in the 27 years I have lived here, MARTA has never cleaned up its act.  It has always been mis managed.

SO to the politicians who are scratching their collective heads on the T-SPLOT failure - clean up what we got, then ask for funding.


The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@Wish for MIlton County

Excellent points.

{{"There are over 5 million people in metro Atlanta now.  The cost of building heavy rail MARTA was pegged at over $7 million per mile when the North Springs addition was built.  Putting MARTA all over, will never happen."}}

...That is a good point that the cost to extend MARTA heavy rail was $7 million per mile when the North Springs extension was built back in the late 1990's.

But it should be noted that with an overall total cost of at least roughly $1.2 billion, the cost of building roughly 36 miles of reversible HOT Lanes along Interstates 75 and 575 (from I-285 to Wade Green Road on I-75 and from the I-75 split to Sixes Road on I-575) is more than $33 million per mile...which is but only one part of a larger $16 billion-plus long-term plan to extend implement a network of HOT lanes on most of the freeway system throughout Metro Atlanta.

It should probably be noted that a few years ago, the State of Georgia was willing to leverage AT LEAST $25 billion in both public and private funds to attempt to build a politically-improbable network of tolled tunnels inside the I-285 Perimeter (mostly under Intown East Atlanta) that would have cost AT LEAST $50 million per mile to build.

At roughly $7 million per mile, the cost of building heavy rail transit lines seems like a major bargain compared to the cost of at least $33 million per mile that will be required to build the I-75/I-575 Northwest Corridor HOT Lanes and the cost of at least roughly $50 million per mile or more that would have been required to tunnel expressways under Intown Atlanta.

Whatever the State of Georgia chooses to address the growing traffic congestion and mobility problems of its number-one money maker in the Atlanta region, whether it be roads, transit, or both roads and transit, it is going to be very expensive, there is just no way around that reality.

The Last Democrat in Georgia
The Last Democrat in Georgia

@ScottNAtlanta @Wish for MIlton County 

Suburban commuters should not have to contribute to building the Beltline for the City of Atlanta, just like City of Atlanta residents should not have to contribute to building roads in the suburbs.

Seeing as though it is a developmental project being built by the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta Beltline should be funded by City of Atlanta residents only.

If the City of Atlanta wanted to expedite the construction of the Beltline and the streetcars, the City of Atlanta should have held a citywide referendum to fund the expedited construction timeline (which likely would have passed overwhelmingly seeing as though the City of Atlanta was one of only two municipalities where the regional referendum was supported by a majority of residents by a margin of 58%-42%) instead of placing those two developmental projects in a regional referendum where relief from the region's increasingly-severe traffic congestion problems should have been the biggest priority.

Just like the Sugarloaf Parkway Extension project is a project that Gwinnett County government desires to build and should be funded by Gwinnett County residents and/or users of the roadway because the road is desired only by Gwinnett County government and the proposed road is in a very-highly politically-sensitive area (in the right-of-way of the highly-controversial erstwhile Northern Arc) where regional and state funding is politically-unfeasible.

The perception amongst voters that they would have been paying much more for someone else's transportation needs rather than their own is a very major reason why the regional referendum approach to transportation funding is inappropriate for the Metro Atlanta region and should most likely NEVER be attempted again.

The regional referendum approach is just not appropriate when most voters think that the thing is basically an under-handed way for the City of Atlanta to get the suburbs to pay for the city's developmental projects, or that Intown/ITP voters think that the thing is an under-handed way for OTP suburbs to get Intown/ITP residents to pay for suburban roads, or that South Metro voters think that the thing is a sneaky way for North Metro voters to get South Metro voters to pay for the needs and wants of the Northside.

The City of Atlanta should pay for its own developmental projects and suburban Metro Atlantans should pay for their own transportation needs with user fees in the form of distance-based tolls on roads and distance-based fares on buses and trains.

EVERYONE should pay for what they use of the transportation network, no more, no less.

No one should be thinking that they are paying for someone else's transportation project more than they are paying for their own transportation project.

ScottNAtlanta
ScottNAtlanta

@Wish for MIlton County Ok...just for arguments sake...you say the Beltline serves "intowners" and you dont want to pay for it...fine.  I live in town, and why should I care if you have to spend an additional 45 minutes in traffic?  Thats your choice.  You chose to live there and I'm not paying you for your poor choice.

Now, lets hope you see the flaw in your argument now.  That fact is you cant always get what you want.  You have to give some to get some.  That is the problem with discourse here and in our country for that matter.  I call it the "where's mine " problem.  People only are concerned about themselves and dont see the forest for the trees.  We all would like our lives to be easier, our commutes shorter, our jobs pay better, our taxes lower.  Thats a perfect world and we dont live in it.  The problem is that you have wildly different ideologies that claim they can get you there...and they fight, and they fight, and they beat each other down with lies, hyperbole, and whatever else they think might stick...and what do you get?  Nothing...nobody gets anything.

If I want the Beltline, I have to contribute my tax money to your roads, but you in turn must contribute to the beltline.  Its like having a child who wont clean his room unless he gets candy 3 times a day and only will clean his room "when he feels like it".  No parent I know would put up with that, but a parent might say clean your room now and you might get an allowance.  Both make reasonable contribution and everyone gets something they want.  Parents get a clean house with not having to spend time picking up after everyone.  Child gets allowance with which he can buy candy if he so chooses (my experience is they usually try to save it for a better goal)...so bottom line is we need less petulant children and more adults!