New strategy, tax for transportation supported by former adversaries in 2012 TSPLOST referendum

By Tom Baxter

A coalition of groups from both sides of the 2012 battle over the regional transportation referendum has agreed on a set of points, which they say could break the current logjam over transportation planning.

The former opponents said they all could back a transportation strategy that allows flexibility in letting counties and municipalities to band together, under the mantra of “one project at a time,” to identify needed transportation projects and local SPLOSTs to fund them.

Supporting the new approach at a Tuesday press conference were Michael Sullivan and Seth Millican of the Georgia Transportation Alliance, which supported the 2012 TSPLOST; Debbie Dooley of the Atlanta TEA Party, and Neill Herring and Colleen Kiernan of the Sierra Club, two organizations that had opposed the measure.

TSPLOST rejection hasn’t dampened demand for GDOT road repair funds

Metro Atlanta has not forfeited many state funds to maintain local roads, despite the higher local match that results from voter rejection of the transportation sales tax in 2012, according to an analysis of figures in a new state report.

The figures seem to alleviate concerns that routine road maintenance could suffer because of penalties built into the state law that allowed for the transportation sales tax referendum. GDOT expects to release the new report shortly.

The 10-county region has drawn down $30.3 million from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Eight local governments did not meet the filing deadline and tentatively have left a total of $430,203 in GDOT coffers – money that probably will be distributed elsewhere on a needs basis.

Transportation Camp attracts usual suspects to explore transit advances

Technology is disrupting nearly every aspect of the transportation industry — whether its state-of-the-art robotics revamping the automobile assembly line to a computerized conductor system navigating the railroad tracks or a mobile application providing real-time train and bus locations.

Nearly 250 technologists, planning students, professional experts and other transportation enthusiasts gathered at Georgia Tech for TransportationCamp South, an “unconference” organized by New York City-based Open Plans — a transportation technology and planning startup. Previous launch cities include San Francisco, New York City, Montreal and Washington, DC.

Would Jesus vote yes on the T-SPLOST?

A conversation with Rhodes Scholar Katharine K. Wilkinson, 29, provoked this question as related to her recent book, “Between God & Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change” (Oxford University Press).

While the issue of climate change is global, and her book focuses on national politics, Atlanta is where Wilkinson started to become aware of the vast natural resources in the Appalachian foothills and beyond.

Only much later did Wilkinson, an agnostic, begin the see the power and numbers of the people in Atlanta and beyond who call themselves evangelical Christians.

“If you understand American evangelical Christianity, representing at least a quarter of the U.S. population, as the politically and theologically complex, fractious, and ultimately mainstream phenomenon that it is, then you’ll appreciate the nuance and sensitivity with which Katharine Wilkinson navigates her subject,” said a Boston Globe reviewer. “Wilkinson tells a vitally important, even subversive, story.”

GDOT report: Transportation sales tax won’t begin to fix state’s freight systems

It turns out that more than $18 billion really doesn’t go as far as it used to.

That’s the amount to be raised within the next decade if voters in July approve the 1 percent sales tax for transportation in each of Georgia’s 12 special tax districts. Even that amount didn’t provide for the majority of road, transit and airport projects initially proposed.

Nor does the sum begin to make a dent in the $18 billion to $20 billion list of upgrades that must be made to the state’s freight handling systems – its highways, railroads, Savannah seaport and airports in Atlanta and Albany, according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Transportation.