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Fulton residents talk TSPLOST pros, cons
by Mary Cosgrove
mcosgrove@neighbornewspapers.com
July 24, 2012 04:38 PM | 2748 views | 3 3 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the T-SPLOST vote merely a few days away, residents are gearing up to check yes or no for a 10-year one percent sales tax to fund an $8.5 billion transportation initiative.

While Fulton County Republican Party members Mike Lowry and Bob Carver both live in north Fulton county, each opposes and supports, respectively, the T-SPLOST as a whole for the 10-county region in metro Atlanta it would fund.

Roswell resident Lowry said one of his chief issues with the T-SPLOST is, of the project list that the tax will fund, 52 percent is earmarked for transit, i.e. MARTA.

“Transit will never work in Atlanta,” he said of relieving traffic congestion. “Atlanta has the lowest density of any metro area above 2 million in the world.”

For public transportation to be effective, Lowry said Atlanta would have to have roughly 2,200 transit stations.

“We don’t have nearly enough density or money in order to do that,” he said. “We are not a hub and spokes city with everyone going to downtown Atlanta to work. We are a network of clusters.”

Additionally, Lowry said there isn’t nearly enough oversight for the amount of money that will generated during the 10-year period, with the Transportation Investment Act providing that a citizens’ review panel comprised of only five people from each of the 10 counties would oversee the funds and the project.

GDOT, the administering force for the project list and the money, Lowry added, is historically irresponsible with funds.

“The DOT has been dysfunctional for the 49 years I’ve lived in Georgia,” he said. “They have dramatically failed their last four or five audits. There’s $1 billion rattling around they can’t find.”

To see a slideshow detailing Lowry’s other concerns with the T-SPLOST, visit www.traffictruth.net.

Carver, a Buckhead resident, said despite being a Republican, he supports the tax as a means for economic development in Georgia.

“I’m really afraid if we don’t pass it, we’re going to lose out on some potential prospects — international companies and otherwise — that may not choose to locate in Georgia and metro Atlanta in particular, and choose to locate it other places because of our lack of transportation infrastructure,” he said.

Carver supports the tax as it’s a sales tax, where everyone from “drug dealers, illegal aliens and event tourists in the Atlanta area would help for transportation infrastructure.” He said because everyone uses roads and transit, everyone should have to pay for its improvement, and through a sales tax, they will.

Also, Carver said Georgia ranks 49th in the country for transportation funding, and the state is fiscally conservative, so it’s not as though the state has wild spending habits to begin with and compounding its overspending by adding taxes.

“If we vote this down, there will be a lot of ramifications on the economic development perspective,” he said.
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Spoked Citizen
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July 30, 2012
The trouble with this line of reasoning is it assumes that what has been true in the past will always be true. Young people today are saddled with tremendous debt and a soft economy. Some of us, myself included, have opted to give up our cars to make managing those debts easier. It's unlikely that I will change my habits anytime soon, even after the debts are paid off. Here's why:

I moved closer to my job in Atlanta. Unfortunately, I have friends in various other clusters that I go bike riding with. Having to rent a car to go up to HBR is a hassle, so I opt out most times. It's hard to justify that when I can ride a couple of miles to a MARTA station and be up in Sandy Springs in 30 minutes. Traveling with my bike has made it easier for me to just stop in one of the many shops up there to browse around. If I see something that I would like and can carry it, I do so; if I can't carry an item with me, I have it shipped to my home. That's way more efficient than having piles of cars circling around and around looking for a parking space in a mall parking lot.

If I need to go on a long journey, I rent a car and throw my bike in there. Leave the hassle of maintaining a car to someone else. Still, I do use one occasionally and would like to pay my share of the infrastructure that I use. T-SPLOST allows me to do that.

This type of tax makes so much sense on so many levels, I just don't get why more people aren't for it. I guess some just don't want to invent novel, efficient, ways to get around problems.

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July 27, 2012
Another important point related to the % transit vs % road argument is the fact that many of the road projects are eligible for state funding unrelated to the sales tax. If you take that into account, it is more like 33/67 transit/roads. Also add in the 15% of the tax that gets routed directly to the counties and cities. Little of that will go towards transit. Much of it will go toward local intersection and complete streets initiatives. That likely takes the numbers to 70% roads.

Roswell actually makes out pretty well with $48 million to improve the HBR/400 interchange and $20.4 million to remove the reversible lanes on hwy9 from the river to the square. There is also $37 million allocated to preliminary studies and engineering work to bring MARTA rail to HBR.
Mike Lowry
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July 26, 2012
The Chamber folks get real upset when you say that 52% is going to MARTA. Technically, only $600 million is going to MARTA for deferred maintenance. The new transit projects on the list are supposed to go into an as-yet-undefined governance structure for regional transit. We can call it MARTA II just for fun.
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