Metro Region TSPLOST List Finalized

It’s in the voter’s hands now.

The final list spends 51.5 percent of its money on mass transit, with bus projects and rail expansion including the Atlanta Beltline and a line to the Emory University and Clifton Corridor area. It’s 47.3 percent roads, from surface street improvements to major highway projects such as a rebuild of I-285 and Ga. 400. The rest goes to airports, bicycle and pedestrian projects, and a project that is a crossover road/transit project.

The officials who make up the “roundtable” that chose the list noted that some did not believe that the entire region could come together to agree on anything. “Guess what, we proved them wrong,” said Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, one of the roundtable’s 21 members.

Tea Party Patriots released the following statement received via the Tip Line:

ATLANTA, GA – Tea Party leaders Julianne Thompson and Debbie Dooley released a statement today regarding the proposed T-SPLOST list release today.

“Now that the final project list has been released we are more determined than ever to make sure this T-SPLOST is DOA. For instance, the idea of targeting $95 million in taxpayers money to a light rail study in Gwinnett that no one will ever use is fiscal irresponsibility at it’s worst.

We all agree there is a traffic problem in metro-Atlanta, and we support infrastructure improvements like bridges, road improvements, lane widening, traffic lights, etc. But let’s be frank, this is not an infrastructure improvement plan. The project list is not targeted to benefit the majority of citizens in the areas they need relief the most. This is a mass transit tax targeted at financial Titanic MARTA. We are in the process of forming a PAC to help candidates and issues. We will educate citizens, fight this, and turn-out the votes when it comes up on the ballot.”

The entire project Metro Atlanta list can be downloaded from the Atlanta Regional Roundtable’s website.

37 comments

  1. Baker says:

    While I sympthize with a lot of the aims of the Tea Party, in 2030, when we’re back at this same position wondering how to fix the traffic nightmare that is Atlanta, remember the names Debbie Dooley and Julianne Thompson as being so critical to the defeat of rail in Georgia. No one is gonna say that the list is perfect, but regarding their point “a light rail study in Gwinnett that no one will ever use”, people better damn well learn to start using it or else we will never fix this.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        The suburbs may not necessarily be dense enough to support mass transit on a widescale with local bus and light rail trams on every street, but people are keenly aware that the Atlanta Region has a limited road network (run by bureaucrats with limited brains) with notoriously acute congestion on the few major roads the region has (compared to other major US cities whose roads run on a checkerboard-like grid system).

        After sitting in severe congestion for years on end with seemingly no end in sight, many area residents, especially those who have to deal with the same mind-numbing gridlocked commute everyday and even people who might have quickly and openly shunned mass transit when the population of the region was about half of what it is today, are much more open to and even desperately searching for transportation options other than just sitting in gridlock and struggling through a miserable commute every single day.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        Mass transit isn’t a waste of money if the investments being made are wisely-targeted, well-placed and well thought-out.

        And many of the transit projects on this TSPLOST list are not necessarily wisely-targeted, well-placed or very well thought-out, which shouldn’t be any surprise for a region attempting to collectively engage in transportation planning for what is virtually the first time ever (hard to believe that is the case after over four million newcomers have moved into the region in the past 40 years).

        Even though this is the region’s first time at attempting to kind of put together a “long-term transportation plan”, the public shouldn’t be tempted to settle for just any plan out of fear that they might not get anything else better.

        The public shouldn’t hesitate to send the authors of the list and the plan back to the drawingboard to come up with something better if it is not to their satisfaction or seems to be a tad bit misguided.

        Commuter rail luxury liners on existing freight rail tracks that run through historic suburban town centers and parallel gridlocked area interstates paid for with bonds paid back with fares and user fees are a much better investment than light rail extensions of MARTA heavy rail lines paid for limited tax dollars.

        Transit (and transportation in general) isn’t just a way to relieve a region’s congested and gridlocked roads at present, but is also an important investment in a region’s future just like education and water supply (two other areas that Georgia is lacking investment in at present).

        If people and goods can’t effectively move around and through a population center, than that population center has a very big problem, especially if commerce and industry is scared away because of the perception that that area refuses to invest more in its transportation infrastructure to help people and goods better move in, through and around that region.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        People should also keep-in-mind that the spread-out, automobile-dominated fashion that Metro Atlanta has developed in the last 50 years or so will not necessarily be the way that it will continue to develop over the next 50 years.

        The residential real estate market has already started to move away from the monolithic domination of single-family homes on large suburban lots and towards more dense Northeastern-style multi-level rowhouses and multi-story multi-family developments on post-suburban and urban infill lots and in the face of lengthening commutes and rising gas prices there’s no reason to think that that trend will not continue and maybe accelerate.

        Just as the commercial real estate market has started to move away from traditional suburban shopping malls surrounded by acres and acres of parking. Just take a look around suburban Atlanta and witness how many traditional suburban shopping malls are having problems attracting shoppers in a changing market being driven by multiple factors including transportation, changing demographics, technology, current trends, etc.

      • trainsplz says:

        They don’t have to be dense, Harry. You park your car at the train station, and then ride the train.

        • saltycracker says:

          Impractical, not time saving and not cost effective to park & ride the train for many.
          Buses in the burbs are low ridership for folks that can’t afford cars.
          Empty vessels in North Fulton.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “Impractical, not time saving and not cost effective to park & ride the train for many.”

            Not necessarily so as driving a few miles to a park & ride lot to ride a commuter train or commuter bus can be alot more time-saving than attempting to drive 30, 40, 50 miles or more one-way in exceptionally-heavy congestion that is even worse on days when there are numerous traffic and weather-related delays.

            Driving a few miles at most to a park & ride lot to board a luxury liner commuter train or bus to avoid having to sit in daily lengthy traffic delays is a way of life in population centers of five million people or more all over the continent. To think that Atlanta, a major population center on the continent that has just under SIX MILLION people attempting to use a transportation infrastructure that was meant to support only THREE MILLION people and has an infamous reputation for notoriously bad traffic congestion, can even attempt to get by without doing the same is unrealistic at best and totally delusional at worst.

          • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

            “Buses in the burbs are low ridership for folks that can’t afford cars.
            Empty vessels in North Fulton.”

            Very true statement. Having heavy local bus service in affluent suburbs is the result of misguided transportation planning.

            Affluent suburban areas like North Fulton with no existing freight rail lines on which to run future commuter rail service are much better served with heavy commuter bus service along a major route like GA 400 that has freeway ramps that run directly into the North Springs MARTA station.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      We’ve already got a region of close to six million people struggling to use a transportation infrastructure that was basically meant to support a population of not more than three million.

      We are barely making it through 2011 on what has become a dangerously-outdated infrastructure in the second decade of the 21st Century, we won’t make it to 2030 going at this pace.

  2. smvaughn says:

    Lane widening? Isn’t Atlanta the poster child for proving that lane widening doesn’t help anything? If you’re against wasteful spending then you should be against wasteful spending, whether it’s lane widening or otherwise.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      I really hope that Ms. Thompson and Ms. Dooley meant “road widening” instead of “lane widening”.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “Lane widening? Isn’t Atlanta the poster child for proving that lane widening doesn’t help anything?”

      No, “lane widening”, as Ms. Thompson and Ms. Dooley put it, doesn’t help anything when the the state completes the widening and then proceeds to invest in virtually nothing else transportation-wise for almost the next 25 years while the population of the region doubles from three million to six million.

      “If you’re against wasteful spending then you should be against wasteful spending, whether it’s lane widening or otherwise.”

      “Lane widening” isn’t necessarily wasteful spending, especially when combined with a COMPETENT, COHERENT, CONSTRUCTIVE and WELL THOUGHT-OUT long-term MULTIMODAL transportation plan that includes roads, bus and rail.

  3. bgsmallz says:

    you know…other folks besides the TPP released statements yesterday….and none of their releases were posted here in their entirety. (and if the best the TPP can do is identify $95M out of $6.1B to carp on and then throw out a dog whistle about MARTA…well, they need to sharpen their pencil.)

    Oh well…

    http://www.atlantaregional.com/about-us/news-press/press-releases/transportation-investment-list-finalized-future-up-to-voters

    I think it’s important to note a few things. These are my understandings about the way the T-Splost will work. (plz correct me if I’m wrong on these)

    1) Only the projects on the list will be funded.
    2) Once the projects on the list are funded. The tax stops. So, for example, if the T-Splost collects the projected amount in 8 years instead of 10, the tax stops in 8 years.
    3) The tax sunsets after 10 years. The only way it can be reinstituted is by voter referendum.

    Those all seem like conservative ideas aimed at making the tax work towards its intended purpose. You don’t have to worry about the general assembly mucking it up (sorry, buzz…no offense intended). You don’t have to worry about the tax continuing into infinity.

    The bottom line is that we have an infrastructure problem in the region. You have some folks that say they are against ‘bad government’ out there screaming and yelling about this…but in reality many of those folks are just anti tax. That’s a fine opinion to have…but if you are really honest, this tax is probably the most conservative attempt at collecting revenue for a specific large scale project in the history of Georgia. It isn’t a blank check. It isn’t an open ended invitation for the government to tax you. It is directed, specific, and limited.

    • Rambler1414 says:

      1) 100% Correct.
      2) I’m not sure.
      3) 100% Correct.

      One other note:
      If there is a project on the list that comes in under budget, isn’t deliverable in a 10-year period, OR changes significantly so that the locals don’t want it anymore, those $$ are re-allocated under the same pot of money (15%) allocated to the Local Governments. (I read this on the Marietta Daily-Journal this morning)

      • “1) Only the projects on the list will be funded.”

        According to Bob Ott, yes, the project has to be on the list to be funded. But just because a project is on the list doesn’t mean it will actually get the funding or that it has to be done. The funding can be moved from one project to another and projects scratched from the list.

        http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/16025019/article-Commissioner-says-chairman-prevents-votes-on-TSPLOST–Ott-suggests-some-on-board-will-get-what-they-want-even-if-it-means-%E2%80%98manipulating-law%E2%80%99?instance=home_news_special_coverage

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          In other words, this T-SPLOST list is like the Atlanta Regional Commission’s version of Three Card Monty…

          • bgsmallz says:

            Point 2- Tax ends if the amount collected is fully collected.

            OCGA 48-8-245 (b)(2)
            The tax shall cease to be imposed on the earliest of the following dates…
            (2) As of the end of the calendar quarter during which the state revenue commissioner
            determines that the tax has raised revenues sufficient to provide to the special district net proceeds equal to or greater than the amount specified as the estimated amount of net proceeds to be raised by the special district transportation tax.

            So…the tax ends at the end of the quarter if the $6.1B amount is reached prior to 10 years.

        • bgsmallz says:

          David-

          I think that reading, while cynical in tone, is probably correct. But the key is the list will not get any bigger. They could ‘shift’ money from one project to the other if there are over runs or savings on one project, etc. So the list could get smaller if some projects cost more…or more funding could go to X Y or Z if a project comes in under budget. But isn’t that the conservative approach to infrastructure funding via a tax? Set a budget and build what you can from the list within the budget…

          What we don’t want is here is a list of things that need to be done, go get taxes for them until you finish…that’s the bottomless pit….

          By the way, the full report lists the schedule…it’s fair to assume the projects on the list scheduled to be done first have the best odds of getting fully completed…and those are mostly road improvements.

      • bgsmallz says:

        I posted the link to press release from the roundtable in the comment above. Didn’t realize the distinction was that the TPP had emailed it into the tip line…which I assume is why you posted it. Fair enough.

      • bgsmallz says:

        You’re Welcome!

        I completely disagree with you! I’m excited about seeing the improvements to traffic flow based upon the many road improvements slated to begin as early as 2013. And this doesn’t include the local dollars being distributed to the counties for local projects. Hooray!

        And think about how much more attractive our area will be to businesses when the streets aren’t falling apart and we can show commitment to infrastructure like Dallas and Charlotte. Hooray!

  4. Ed says:

    If this fails, I firmly believe it will be enough for Charlotte to overtake us as the South’s leading city. But hey, who cares about being a world-class city, amirite?

      • Rambler1414 says:

        Says who? What data are you looking at to make this claim?

        Hooray for being 49th in the country in per capita investment! Woohoo! THAT’S something to be proud of!

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      “If this fails, I firmly believe it will be enough for Charlotte to overtake us as the South’s leading city.”

      Not necessarily as Charlotte is in the midst of struggling with an unemployment rate that is about a full percentage point higher than Atlanta.

      Charlotte is also grappling with severe problems within its beloved banking and finance industries in the midst of an economic downturn that brought the demise of hometown-based Wachovia (now part of West Coast-based Wells Fargo).

      Charlotteans are also increasingly paranoid about the continuing rise of the Raleigh-Durham area which has been growing faster as of late and moving closer to overtaking Charlotte as the largest metro area in the Carolinas because of an economy that is MUCH more diversified (education, medical and finance) than Charlotte (finance).

        • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

          Yeah, the premise is right, but the continuing rise of Raleigh (Wake County, NC in particular) is sort of blocked from Atlantans’ view because of Charlotte’s dominance in finance for the last couple of decades or so, which is now sputtering with the trouble in the banking industry as Wachovia is no more and Bank of America is seemingly announcing a new round of downsizing and layoffs each other week.

  5. saltycracker says:

    If, If, If……we could just manage it……The interactive map of the projects is really easy to use OTP…….when you can find one……Cherokee needs to get out of the regional for 10 years, vote in a local 1% and spend it on their projects while the DOT takes the money they already got out of Cherokee and widen 140 as planned…..

  6. rense says:

    Again, the folks who oppose this need to come up with their own list of solutions. Looks to me like the driving force of the opposition is not wishing to have any of their tax money go to Fulton-DeKalb mass transit projects, while fully willing to have Fulton-DeKalb taxpayer money going to Gwinnett/Cobb etc.

    If that is your position, then when this thing fails, then let the folks who don’t want to support anything in Fulton-DeKalb raise their own revenue for their own projects. And all the money will HAVE to come ENTIRELY from local revenues … sales and property taxes. It should receive NO FEDERAL MONEY and it should receive NO STATE MONEY. Instead, all revenues should come ENTIRELY from the suburban counties.

    Go ahead and get it done.

    • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

      One possible alternative to the current T-SPLOST proposal to split the funding of transportation projects 51.5% for transit and 48.5% for roads, would have to been to just present a T-SPLOST proposal that varied as much as each county wanted it to be (counties like Fulton and DeKalb may want as much as 75% or more of their alloted T-SPLOST revenues to go towards funding transit improvements while suburban and exurban counties may want as much as 75% or more of their alloted T-SPLOST funds to go towards funding road improvements). And then take the one-percent of the fuel tax not constitutionally required to fund road maintenance that now currently goes into the State’s General Fund and divert it to fund transit upgrades statewide.

    • Harry says:

      Wouldn’t it be great if each county or even commission district could self-determine what to build and finance, and keep our money at home? The real truth is, we in Gwinnett, Cobb etc. through our federal and state tax dollars have been paying for junky infrastructure and make-work jobs in Atlanta, etc. TSPLOST would be more of a bad deal, because over half of it is earmarked for mass transportation which we don’t need.

      • The Last Democrat in Georgia says:

        “TSPLOST would be more of a bad deal, because over half of it is earmarked for mass transportation which we don’t need.”

        I agree. While being more of a preferred overall option for more urban Fulton and DeKalb Counties, MARTA-style mass transit in the form of heavy-rail subways and elevated trains and heavy local bus service isn’t necessarily the best fit across-the-board for the entirety of suburban counties like Cobb, Gwinnett and even all of Clayton and further-out exurban counties.

        The best options for transportation investment in suburban and exurban areas outside of Fulton, DeKalb and closer-in parts of Cobb, Gwinnett and Clayton Counties would be funding tilted more heavily towards critically-needed road improvements than mass transit.

        The best mass transit options in further-out suburban and exurban areas would be high-frequency commuter rail service on existing freight-rail lines and high-frequency commuter bus service on freeways and major surface roads.

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