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Are You Ready For Some TSPLOST?

TSPLOST: Great idea or boondoggle? You decide on July 31.

I’ve been thinking about the TSPLOST referendum set for a vote on July 31. The Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax is one of those issues that aren’t attractive to most active folks who are just trying to make it through the day. Who can blame busy people? Junior’s little league and soccer games are a lot more interesting than say, where dollars are directed in a proposed sales tax.

Sure, most of the electorate kind of wakes up during presidential election seasons and are nudged by intense media coverage and political ads to get to the voting booths. But, when it comes to primaries, runoffs and referendums, most of the population takes a collective yawn. Translation: Low voter turnout.

So, who votes? It is the engaged who get out on Election Day and vote their conscience. The TSPLOST issue looks to be no different. Tea partiers and environmentalists alike are burning up talk radio, television, social networks and blogs with their opinions. Strange bedfellows indeed, but when examining how this phenomenon took place, it makes sense. Tea Party members are not too happy about what they perceive as government expansion and mere incompetence. Environmentalists do not like the amount of proposed roads and very few transit projects in the plan thus feeling that traffic congestion and pollution will continue to get worse.

Despite the “policy-nerd” angle of TSPLOST, all of us in Georgia ought to care about the July 31 vote. TSPLOST would fund a mix of major transportation projects throughout the state. After decades of unprecedented growth, projects like the expansion of Peachtree Parkway are much needed to relieve congestion.

Yes, it would be nice to have a rail line run from near the Chamblee MARTA station up in the middle of Peachtree Industrial on raised platforms to Peachtree Parkway and all the way to Georgia 400. The north MARTA rail line would be exceptional if it was already extended up to the Gwinnett CID area near Pleasant Hill and even farther north. I would love to never have to get in my car on a daily basis again, but those types of plans are not realistic given this area’s history and attitudes towards mass transit. Now that's serious dreaming.

Proponents say that TSPLOST is a good start, that “something needs to be done” about our bad traffic and lowered quality-of-life. Those who are for TSPLOST also say that not passing the measure jeopardizes the area’s possible future economic expansion. Opponents claim that the plan is a flat-out boondoggle and that the funds will be mismanaged thus furthering government chicanery.

Indeed no one likes taxes and government expanding with our hard-earned dollars. Nevertheless, I have been here for 23 years seeing very few projects keeping up with the metro area’s vast growth. Something needs to be done, but is TSPLOST the answer? I’m still reading up on the pros and cons and will most likely decide the very minute I get into the voting booth.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Brian Wheeler May 31, 2012 at 09:15 PM
R: ARC did not say that, what they said is that it will have varying degrees of impact with an average impact that is hard to determine. http://ww2.ajcmobile.com/autojuice/?targetUrl=http://www.ajc.com/news/transportation-referendum/will-sales-tax-shorten-1440827.html Why is that? Because despite the sizable investment, the traffic here is so bad that it will take massive amounts of investment to really make a long term impact. The area can not keep up with the influx of new residents, so TSPLOST at the very minimum keeps us at pace with growth. No action means we fall even further behind and go into an even bigger hole. Why do you think sO many major corporations in the area, who have no investment in road or rail construction support the measure? So they can continue to attract top talent. Or scared away by our renowned congestion.
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew May 31, 2012 at 09:55 PM
@Brian I DON'T need a link from the AJC here - JUST listen to ARC YOURSELF! YouTube http://trk.cp20.com/Tracking/t.c?SUyo-UQy7-olVP87 T-SPLOST Cheerleader Admits on Tape That No Reduction in Commute Time Will Occur "The average commute time really won't change a lot." - Mike Alexander, Modeler/Planner with the Atlanta Regional Commission
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew May 31, 2012 at 10:00 PM
SO the ad campaign MISREPRESENTS the “truth” because they claim: 1) It WILL reduce travel times by untying ATLANTA 2) The tax will only last TEN years … Thank you for making our points for us, PLEASE continue!!!…
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew May 31, 2012 at 10:28 PM
WOW man, it took a while for me to remember my days with Abbie Hoffman and all the pretty colors… Yeah… the BROWN acid IS bad. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbie_Hoffman
Finch June 01, 2012 at 01:36 AM
One of the talking points used to harass us into voting for this cash giveaway is that it will help our children. Why on earth would we want to vote to indebt our children for a 19th century bus system when they will be living in the 22nd century? The construction will take place during the next 20 years and our children will be paying for the upkeep for the rest of their lives. It’s inconceivable for me to vote YES to financially imprison my child to perpetual taxes for the sake of saving MARTA. If you want traffic relief, you divide and conquer - stop concentrating the traffic on I75 and I 85. There should be two new interstates built; one coming out of South Carolina that will divert south bound traffic through the open fields of counties like Madison. Reconnect the traffic South of Macon. Coming from Alabama, another interstate that loops south of Atlanta leading to South Carolina. Pumping more cars through Atlanta has proven to be an abject failure. The Untie Atlanta sites are filled with promise and propaganda. I don’t trust what they are selling. They have proven you can’t trust what they say. Wasn’t 100% of HOPE money supposed to support education? Wasn’t the 400 toll supposed to go away after ten years? When one’s actions and words don’t match, one of them is fibbing.
Finch June 01, 2012 at 01:55 AM
In speaking with folks pushing the Beltline, the only way congestion will improve is if we all GET OUT OF OUR CARS AND TAKE THE BUS. MARTA reported a 22% reduction in ridership in 2011. Every county that has a bus service could add additional routes to their metal wagons right now, but they have elected not to because their models show that people will not ride the bus. It's impractical and costly. So there will be only minimal traffic relief with the T-SPLOST. If you vote YES to T-SPLOST, you are throwing your money away. A new plan will appear once the officials understand that we will no longer settle for second best. Who would have thought – the Republicans party would be responsible for the biggest tax increase in Georgia.
Bob Peppel June 01, 2012 at 07:30 AM
Jimmy. That is precisely the problem. We need astate wide plan, not 12 uncoordinated plans. I also will not support it until they figure out some way to reduce the amount of my money wasted on corruption in the City of Atlanta.
Alex H June 01, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Part of the problem is the statewide plan that distributes the funding by congressional district rather than by contribution or need. Georgia is a net donor state with regards to federal transportation, and metro Atlanta is a net donor to the rest of the state considering those same funds.
No Name June 02, 2012 at 05:13 AM
Certainly you have figured out by now that the D or R behind someone's name is meaningless. You have to inspect the fruit, then cut off the rotten ones by the root!
Finch June 05, 2012 at 03:17 AM
Has anyone noticed that when the AJC does an article on the TSPLOST, the "pro" side is in the Sunday paper - the one with 2.3 million readers? The "opposed" side is in the Monday or Tuesday paper. Their bias is coming through. Let's say the vote passes and the plan fails. Wonder if the AJC will show the least bit of concern for having steered the people of Atlanta down the wrong path. I think if these political and business leaders want the 19th century bus system, they should be willing to guarantee their paychecks against any loses that will ensue. Any cost overruns, any empty buses, and long-term maintenance - let them guarantee their salaries against the project.
John Doe July 14, 2012 at 04:28 PM
If the T SPOPST does not help fund the widening of HWY 20 from Peachtree Ind Blvd to 400 I will not vote for the T spost vote on july 31....if it does, I may consider voting for it.
Finch July 15, 2012 at 01:59 AM
If we kept the funds form the 1 cent sales tax in Gwinnett County, we could improve numerous other roads rather than sending our dollars to Atlanta to build their new thug run. Gwinnett should have their own TSPLOST so we can widen roads, build fly-overs, roundabouts and a mag lev train if we want to. We should not be forced to send out dollars to Atlanta.
Bob Peppel July 15, 2012 at 05:26 AM
I agree with Finch, the voters in Atlanta elected their leaders so they should have to pay for their corruption, not those of us in other counties.
SOGTP July 15, 2012 at 02:42 PM
John Doe - It does not. GA 400 is in Forsyth Region 2 and Peachtree Ind Blvd is in Gwinnett Region 3. There are no intraregional projects.
Bob Peppel July 16, 2012 at 04:19 AM
Bill Evelyn - I consider the fact that the regions are so small is a good reason to vate against it. Why should Forsyth and Gwinnett be in different regions?
Robert J. Nebel July 16, 2012 at 12:31 PM
@John Doe The following is a link to the TSPLOST project list: http://tinyurl.com/7vmetyp Also, the AJC has been doing a series on TSPLOST: http://tinyurl.com/7nwj376
SOGTP July 16, 2012 at 01:58 PM
Bob Peppel - The Regions were originally set up in the early 70's during Carter's Governorship with the purpose to deliver FREE Cheese. They were modified for TSPLOST.
Bob Peppel July 16, 2012 at 03:17 PM
From Cheese to TSPLOST is really understandable for this legislature. I doubt very seriously if they could pour water out of a boot with instructions printed on the heel.
Joe July 25, 2012 at 10:21 AM
Vote "NO" July 31! Just say "NO" to jobs. Everyone know that Obama is the only person who can create jobs, who are we to come up with a plan that would actually work? Let's just ask the federal government for money to maintain our roads, there's no waste there. What could possibly be more efficient than getting transportation funding from the federal government? The 15-20 year plan for projects seems to be very efficient.
Robert J. Nebel July 25, 2012 at 12:10 PM
It could be a good thing if each county built its own transportation network. Imagine a mag lev train network, light rail, natural gas-powered buses, bike trails, fly-overs and roundabouts throughout Gwinnett County. I still feel that this idea could only be successful if each county's network could feed into neighboring counties. To me, comity between each county needs to be a key ingredient in any region-wide transportation plan.
DavidE July 25, 2012 at 01:25 PM
The easiest fix is a $2-3 per gallon state road tax on fuel. They can fund projects with that money, people will start taking public transportation since fuel is so expensive.. Problem solved. ;-)
Jim S July 25, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Another thought as we decide how to vote for road improvement. "Slower traffic keep right" "Allow traffic to merge" "Obey the rules of the road" "Engage in defensive driving" Do any of these 'suggestions' ring a bell? I have driven all over the country, and the level of driver ability has dropped drastically. It is not just the cell phones and GPS units. There is such a difference between operating a vehicle and driving. Yes, I use my phone in the car. I have a hands-free unit on my sun visor that is wirelessly connected to my radio. My phone is also my GPS, so I can get directions throught my radio while I am driving. I don't read, answer e-mails, text or shave while I am driving. And I keep both hands on the wheel as much as possible. I am not better than anyone else, this is the way I was trained to drive. Courtious, attentive and trained drivers will go farther than all the money and lanes we can build. Let's change the laws and build infrastructure. If the politicians don't spend the money correctly, we can always get new ones.
North Georgia Weather July 25, 2012 at 01:56 PM
One thousand +'s... thank you for saying this.
Finch July 26, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Chip Rogers has now stepped forward and said the House would come up with "workable" projects if we vote "no." The current plan will not relieve traffic, thus the new marketing campaign states that the one percent TAX will create jobs. Thank you Republicans for stating that raising taxes creates jobs. Vote NO to this scam and let's come up with projets that work. There is nothing stopping Atlanta or any other city from moving forward and adding more buses to their overcrowded street or putting a streetcar name "stupid" down the middle of Peachtreet Street. Be my guest. Just don't expect Gwinnett or Cobb County to pay for your "fixes."
Finch July 26, 2012 at 02:48 AM
"we can always get new ones.: NOT. It is almost impossible to get rid of a sitting legislature because they have the money from special interest to buy their seats. Vote NO and kill this dog so that projects that will actually clear up these roads can move forward. If you vote "yes" you are stuck with these projects for ten years. No new projects will be created and you know that federal is drying up, which means - YEP, ANOTHER TAX INCREASE TO COMPLETE AND MAINTAIN WHAT THEY HAVE PROPOSSED. You do realize that much of the project plan is about doing studies. If studies have not already been done, how do they know any of these projects will help congestion? They can't. NO, this is now truning out to be a job's program since the State of Gerogia can't attract new businesses to the area. People in other countries also know about the Atlanta Public Schols cheating scandal and don't want to move here.
Jim S July 26, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Teach people how to drive, outlaw handheld communication devices while driving and increase fines for violations. Enforce the law. Then we wont have traffic issues, and we wont need to give any more money to the government to fix them. Do you know why the I85 express lane doesn't work? Because people are afraid to drive the speed limit. I have seen 5 accidents cause by people getting into the express lane, by driving over the solid line, into the path of another vehicle. Laws don't work because people dont care. Then the government does what they do best, throw more money at the problem. The root cause of traffic congestion in Gwinnett County is untrained, apathetic drivers.
North Georgia Weather July 26, 2012 at 12:41 PM
One of my passions is driving and I will be writing a blog post about this. Thanks Jim for bringing this up.
Jim S July 26, 2012 at 12:45 PM
NGW, I would be happy to do what I can to help make this a reality. I look forward to reading your blog!
Robert J. Nebel July 26, 2012 at 02:11 PM
Outlawing handheld communication is a good idea, but it would take the government to enforce-which means more public dollars spent. Certainly that could be a great investment as well as training for drivers - especially those who can barely operate a Hummer or SUV.
Jim S July 26, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Robert, aren't the police officers already on the roads?

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