Tad Leithead: regional transportation referendum likely to be Nov., 2012

By Maria Saporta

It was regional transportation day in Cobb County.

Tad Leithead, chairman of the Atlanta Regional Commission and a former chairman of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, gave the keynote speech at the First Monday breakfast on the upcoming transportation sales tax referendum in 2012.

During the question-and-answer period, Leithead was asked whether Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s desire to move the date of the referendum from the special primary date of July 31 to the general election on Nov. 6 would be successful.

“The momentum is moving towards delaying the referendum to November,” Leithead said. “The July primary day would have a lower turn out. And you don’t get a broad base of voters to the polls.”

Leithead said he expected the legislature to address the issue at the 2012 legislative session, which made it sound unlikely that the bill would come up during the special session later this month on Aug. 15.

“We won’t know for sure until the session,” Leithead said.

Either way, Leithead made a valiant case for the transportation referendum saying it would be “the greatest public works investment in the history of our state,” and it would “help reduce our reliance on single occupancy vehicles and improve our quality of life.”

The one-cent transportation sales tax is estimated to generate $7.2 billion over 10 year with 15 percent of that going back to local governments for their individual project.

That leaves $6.1 billion that will be part of a regional project list that is being put together by the executive committee of the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable. A draft project list is supposed to be released by Aug. 15.

Leithead, who is not part of the roundtable but is involved because ARC is providing the staff support for the project list, said the big issue right now is over the percentage split between roads and transit.

At the last roundtable meeting, three scenarios were presented — a 60-40 split favoring roads; a 50-50 split; and a 60-40 split favoring transit.

But Leithead also made sure that the Cobb Chamber knew that in addition to the transportation sales tax, the ongoing Transportation Improvement Program calls for an additional $7.6 billion investment in transportation over the same decade, with most of that going towards roads.
That seemed to bolster the argument that the 2012 sales tax should be more transit heavy when considering all future transportation investments in the region.

Also attending the Cobb Chamber breakfast was Vance Smith, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Smith spoke of the importance of his department to deliver road projects in a timely and cost effective manner.

Georgia’s legendary DOT commissioners — Tom Moreland — also was in the audience. He was accompanied by former Gwinnett Commission Chairman (and former ARC Chairman) Wayne Hill, who has now joined the Moreland-Altobelli engineering consulting firm.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

4 replies
  1. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    “Also attending the Cobb Chamber breakfast was Vance Smith, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. Smith spoke of the importance of his department to deliver road projects in a timely and cost effective manner.”

    Vance Smith, Commissioner of GDOT, speaking of the importance of delivering road projects in a timely and effective manner? Now THAT is HILARIOUS!!!!!

    Is this the same Vance Smith who when merely approached by a news crew during the January winter storm, ran as fast as he could in an attempt to get away and hide from the cameras?

    Is this the same Vance Smith who recently received a vote of “no confidence” from the board at GDOT?

    Is this the same GDOT he is talking about that routinely gets around to working on projects about 20 years behind schedule, if we’re lucky?

    Is this the same GDOT that didn’t know how many projects it had on it books or how many projects it was working on at any given particular time?

    Is this the same GDOT where $430 million worth of unpaid invoices was recently found stuffed in a desk?

    Anyone besides me see the irony in Commissioner Smith’s comments? Report

    Reply
  2. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    GDOT….timely, cost effective? So, so, SO FUNNY!!!!!!! ROFLMAO!!!!!

    What is this, the “Wildly Inept and Completely Incompetent Bureaucratic Government Agency Comedy Hour”, hosted by Vance Smith? Report

    Reply
  3. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Tad Leithead: “regional transportation referendum likely to be Nov., 2012”

    What? No one thinks that a Tea Party-dominated Republican Primary, where the theme will be overwhelmingly anti-tax and anti-government, will be a good time to ask for a tax increase to expand the duties of government? I don’t see why not!Report

    Reply
  4. The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

    Tad Leithead: “regional transportation referendum likely to be Nov., 2012”

    What? No one thinks that a Tea Party-dominated Republican Primary, where the theme will be overwhelmingly anti-tax and anti-government, will be a good time to ask for a tax increase to expand the duties of government? I don’t see why not!Report

    Reply

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