Yesterday the AJC posted an editorial by Neal Boortz titled Our transportation record shows lack of leadership. He makes some excellent points so I hope you read the whole thing. Below are a few choice selections:
I’ve been reading the AJC’s coverage of the machinations surrounding the multibillion dollar transportation infrastructure tax referendum scheduled to descend upon us next summer. And so, a question: Considering the transportation track record of the brilliant traffic planners and engineers in the Atlanta region, do you really have the confidence to put a few billion dollars in their hands for more projects and “improvements”?
Let’s just look at the record. First we’ll deal with that traffic monstrosity known as the Downtown Connector. If you weren’t born here you probably don’t know that what is now the Downtown Connector was supposed to be the route of I-85. I-75 was supposed to come roaring in from the North along what is now Northside Drive to cross I-85 around the airport. Someone decided we could save some money by simply combining the two through the city. That certainly worked out well, didn’t it?
Pity also, if you will, the poor saps traveling down Ga. 400 toward downtown. Your typical suburban families eager for an evening of fun at Underground Atlanta. There our transportation wizards funnel four lanes of traffic down to one for the transition to I-85 … and Lord help you if you cross the gore, that white line separating the highways from the on- and off-ramps. See you in court.
The new tax is also supposed to fund some rail projects as well, right? Will these projects be designed by the same geniuses who didn’t put a MARTA station at what was then Atlanta-Fulton County Station — a station that would now serve Turner Field — because Atlanta was afraid it would lose parking revenue at the stadium? Can the people who made this decision be banned from getting anywhere near even 1 cent of this new tax revenue?
Boortz is right. How can any rational person believe that the dysfunctional politicians, consultants and bureaucrats that got us into this mess will ever solve anything?
If you doubt me just consider that after months of political haggling the geniuses in charge have managed to compile a list which would spend more than 6 Billion Dollars without making any noticeable impact on Atlanta’s traffic problem. Look at the list yourself.
Notice anything strange? The state is trying to sell people on higher taxes for a plan that doesn’t even begin to cover the cost of the projects they are including!
The state list says that they will spend $172,000,000 to improve the exchange at GA 400 and I-285. But the cost of the project is projected to cost $450,000,000. The list also calls for $37,000,000 to bring MARTA to Roswell… but it projects the total cost to be more than $900,000,000. Transit advocates have been all excited about the inclusion of One Billion Dollars to expand MARTA into the I-20 and Clifton Road areas. But apparently it doesn’t bother them that the state expects it to actually cost nearly Two Billion Dollars. So even if those projects could relieve traffic the state would still need another Two Billion Dollars to get them all done.
But we are falling into a trap if we worry too much about the list anyway. It is an illusion. The project list will carry no more weight than a flyer handed out by a used car salesman.
The list to be voted on next year will not be a binding contract… on the state. When the state takes money from one promised project to cover the gap they have in another, taxpayers will have no recourse. Remember what they did with the GA 400 tolls?
So realize that the entire transportation tax charade is just one big, happy waste of time intended to get the “buy-in” of Georgia taxpayers and facilitate a new pipeline of money for the people responsible for our transportation mess in the first place. The same people that created the downtown connector and routed MARTA away from Atlanta Fulton County stadium will decide where Billions of dollars in extra tax money go and there won’t be a darn thing we will be able to do about it. Yay!