I’m sure that there were plenty of us over the past two years who felt like going to the Ga. 400 tollbooth to exclaim, “Mr. Deal, tear down this toll plaza!” Well, that dream came true this week when Gov. Nathan Deal announced that the Georgia 400 toll will end in late 2013. Now, scores of Porsches, BMWs, Hummers, assorted trucks, SUVs, minivans and sedans will get to zoom up the Alpharetta Autobahn unfettered.
Many are pondering the timing of Governor Deal’s announcement. The announcement came less than two weeks before the July 31 TSPLOST vote. Many argue that this was a calculated move to inspire more “Yes” votes on TSPLOST. If that theory is true, will it work? Is this a win-win or a lose-lose gamble on the governor’s part?
If TSPLOST passes, will we indeed see jobs created and less traffic congestion? Some citizens agree with this assessment and others do not believe these promises. If TSPLOST fails, what will happen? Will companies bypass the Peach State and locate their businesses in Charlotte? Will Georgia’s infrastructure crumble?
The fact is the Peach State and more importantly, the Atlanta metro area needs to invest in its infrastructure and increase its road expansion and transit projects. If I were the CEO of a company looking to locate a business, I certainly wouldn’t locate it in the Atlanta metro area. There are tons of properties to locate a business – such as Peachtree Corners, a perfect place to set up shop. But, if my employees couldn’t live near my place of business, I wouldn’t wish to put more hard-working people on the metro area’s highways.
With a lack of practical transit options, congested roads and increased smog, this area is not attractive to economic expansion. The cynical view on TSPLOST is understandable, but there needs to be a solution. What are the alternatives? If TSPLOST doesn’t pass, what should be the recommended funding scheme for basic maintenance, improvements and expansions?