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Which Vision Should You Vote For?

Atlanta is no longer a hub-and-spoke city, but a large network of suburban clusters. Our transportation system should support it, not try to stop it.

On Tuesday you will have an opportunity to directly influence the way that transportation planning and development is managed in the metro region. The pro-TSPLOST vision is to spend over 52 percent of your increased tax dollars on economic development for downtown Atlanta (MLK Center trolley, beltline), on bailing out MARTA (“state of good repair” capital projects), and on expanding rail and bus transit. Very few major road projects are included in their vision, and those are deferred until the end of the project period. For example, the much-touted GA 400/I-285 interchange project isn’t to start until 2020.

The anti-TSPLOST position is that this is a very badly formed process that has, pardon the pun, gone off the rails. We think the legislature needs a do-over to establish a much-reformed and open transportation planning and management process. The solution isn’t simply to find more ways to throw more money into the process. It is to fix a badly broken process, then re-evaluate our needs and develop coherent solutions. That do-over cannot begin until you vote NO on the TSPLOST on Tuesday.

The metro-Atlanta region has grown well beyond the confines of the city limits of Atlanta. Most of our job growth has been, and will continue to be, in the suburbs.  We have the nicest, least-dense suburban lifestyle of any city in the United States. We don’t need to change that, we need to support it and develop real transportation solutions that work to help you travel from origin to destination in the most efficient, cost-effective way possible. The key elements of a working solution were advanced in Baruch Feigenbaum’s stellar analysis found on the Georgia Public Policy Foundation website

Our transportation planners, and our politicians, are on a completely different wavelength. You can help them to shift their thinking by voting NO on Tuesday, then following up with letters and phone calls to let them know what you think. 

It’s time they stopped doing things to us, and started doing things for us.

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.

Just Nasty and Mean July 30, 2012 at 01:16 PM
What the pro-TSPLOST crowd seems to want to ignore is so many items on the Project List are ATLANTA focused (Beltline, MLK Trolly, MARTA to Emory). While they contribute 10% via the tax, they get 27% of the projects. This was the way it was intended when Deal interjected Kasim Reed into the mix, and unbalanced the project list. Everything now seems to be centered around focusing/servicing Atlanta! Well, I have bad news for the downtown folks. The bad schools, crime, racism, cronyism, poor policies, pathetic decision-making has finally caught up with them. We are a metro area of suburbs and some call it sprawl. As Atlantans, it is how we have chosen to live, and the so-called brilliant braintrusts say we should stay focused on Atlanta--just like MARTA in 1973! Well--Bull-hockey! Vote NO, Heck NO, on TSPLOST!
franklin59 July 30, 2012 at 01:45 PM
What I find most alarming is that the people who are in favor of this felonious tax are those people who actually believe there will improvement in traffic within the next few years. There is nothing in the T-SPLOST that will actually help improve traffic in our region - period. We are a clan of automobile artists, and there is noting in T-SPLOST that will help reduce our desire to drive cars and/or trucks. Nothing will help our traffic situation without the introduction of new interstates. As a native of Atlanta and having been behind the wheel of a vehicle on these roads for over 40 years, I have learned routes around the traffic snarls on the interstates. You just have to learn patience in driving the minor arteries in order to avoid the traffic jams. T-SPLOST is yet another boodogle that has so many of the ignorant taxpayers duped! NO on T-SPLOST!!
Bryan Farley July 30, 2012 at 05:11 PM
You call yourself an "Atlantan" yet you live in the burbs? Atlanta should always be the focal point since the entire region is focused around the city. If ATL fails the burbs will follow. How can you cut the head off and expect the body to work? You don't live in the Norcross metro area, or the Marietta metro area, or the Jonesboro metro area. This is the ATLANTA metro area. So yes ATL should get a big chunk of money.
Bryan Farley July 30, 2012 at 05:16 PM
More interstates will lead to more traffic. Also, no one wants another highway coming through their neighborhood. Over the past 40 years the focus has been on roads and expanding them and look where it has gotten ATL. We need more alternatives to just driving everywhere. More rail stations and denser developement will help with that. Most of the T SPLOST projects are roads and can be built within the next few years. Again another uninformed and backwards comment from an older person who doesn't care what happens to the city in the next 10-20 years.
Dave July 30, 2012 at 05:33 PM
I agree with you. But, if the suburban counties want extensive rail service, they have to vote MARTA in (and the 1% sales tax it comes with) separately from the T-SPLOST. Fulton and DeKalb residents already pay a 1% sales tax for MARTA.
Vic Hawa July 30, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I don't know if anyone else in North Fulton feels the same as I do, but for the last 20 years we've been here, North Fulton has been neglected by the Board of Commissioners, our L.O.S.T. tax dollars siphoned to South Fulton or wasted on bureaucracy while our basic infrastructure needs went unmet. Why would we vote in favor of additional hard earned tax dollars for an increase in SUBSIDIZED mass transit projects that serves 3-5% of commuters. My wife and I rode MARTA for 15 years and were extremely disappointed with poor service, filthy trains and buses, poor security and rude employees.
Bryan Farley July 30, 2012 at 06:06 PM
Transit in ATL servers far more than 3-5% of commuters. MARTA's service area is only in Fulton and Dekalb (with the exception of route 12 to Cumberland and the airport station). MARTA's daily ridership is 500,000 people in a service area of about 2 million! Even if we divide the 500,000 to 250,000 (being that most people go to and from a place that is still about 12-13% of people using MARTA to commute. Even if you include CCT, GCT, and Xpress ridership and include the entire metro area it is still about 12%, which is pretty good. MARTA service has really just become somewhat bad in the last few years. MARTA had over 150 routes and trains use to come every 8 minutes or so. Now they have trains every 15 minutes and only 91 routes. Trains and buses are far from filty and I always see security in the stations. I've personally never ran into a rude employee but I'm sure they are out there. And service couldn't have been that bad because you rode for 15 years!!
Tim July 30, 2012 at 06:25 PM
All we need is to increase the gas tax, and that will pay for any and all needed road imprvements and repairs. That way, the people who use the roads will happily pay more for better roads since that is all they want. Then those that use public transit won't have to pay the extra TSPLOST tax. Next, revamp Marta to get the non-contributing state anti-Marta officals out of it and return it to local control of all its funds. Finally, Fulton and Dekalb can decide on their own public transportation needs and wants, and funding. Problem solved.
Tim July 30, 2012 at 06:32 PM
Good points, but there is more to the story. For example, Marta is the only subway/train/bus system in the entire country that not only receives zero funding from the state, and the state limits on how it is operated. Second, roads and highways require many millions of dollars per year in routine maintenance costs paid by taxpayers, since the state gas tax is too low to support the road network. Rather than using the TSPOST to fiund more roads and maintenance, just raise the gas tax to cover the roads.
Vic Hawa July 30, 2012 at 06:51 PM
Even though MARTA only serves Fulton and Dekalb, many riders come from adjoining counties. Take a walk through the Doraville station some time and take notice of all the Gwinnett county tags. I believe the Atlanta MSA is approximately 6 million. If you consider sticky floors, seats and handrails, dirty windows, and cock roaches crawling about seats and wall panels on both buses and trains, i guess it wasn't all that bad. I rarely saw security except when they were hanging out at various stations. At night while returning from the airport I don't know that I ever saw security personnel. I observed train operators disregard visually impaired patrons at the North Avenue station to the point where they got stuck between the doors and called out for help. Train operators that wouldn't respond to tell you whether the train was a Doraville or North Springs train because if wasn't posted on the front or side of the train. New digital informational signs not in sync with the schedule of trains. I could go on and on. It was relatively convenient but unreliable when needed. Never again will we use MARTA to park and/or get to the airport.
Bryan Farley July 30, 2012 at 07:08 PM
I have been to the Doraville station and yes there are a lot of Gwinnett county tags but the service area is still only 2 million -- Fulton and Dekalb. How can you say MARTA service 6 million when, by law, it can't go outside of the boaders (except in 2 cases) of Fulton and Dekalb? I don't know what MARTA you were riding but I've never seen any of that. That shows me that you don't ride MARTA. Most of MARTA's buses are new and all the rail cars have been rehabilitated. I can't say on EVERY SINGLE trip I've seen security but I've never felt unsafe, even at night. I really don't see a train operator just completely ignoring a person stuck in a door and what reason would they not tell you where the train was going? I've never see a train where they didn't atleast have a postcard telling where the train was going. Now I will agree that the digital signs in the stations aren't always correct but for the most part I've seen them to be correct. Like I said you and me must take two different MARTAs.
janet h russell July 30, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I just rode the Marta bus from Roswell to Northspring station connected to the Red LIne, exited at Midtown Center, had a meeting with a Ga Tech Dean and returned the same way. The ride was clean, air conditioned, efficient and did not make a special trip just for me. I was at my destination in 45 mins. The short 1 1/2 block walk was pleasant. Time to grow up and if you want to live near a big city with all the possibilities and opportunities that city living provides but want as Mr. Lowry seems to extol the pleasures of suburban living , you need to accept that you can't have it without paying for it...somewhere Want to live in the burbs and work in the burbs great!!! Can't find a job near your house? Well Mr. Lowry's solution to that is just move near your job.....except that he lives in North Fulton and drives downtown a couple of times a week for his job. Perhaps he should consider the move if only for a few days a week. NO modern metropolitan area will succeed into the future without a great mass transit system and Marta has been controlled by the state legislature who gives ZERO money to the system. By the way, there are 3 projects which are ready to roll in Roswell. So if you live in North Fulton and vote NO you are voting against Roswell's ability get people to Ga 400. When someone asks you where do you live? What is your answer? If it is Atlanta then you should be voting YES.
Bryan Farley July 30, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I say if the burbs want to be stuck in the past then let them. Let Fulton and Dekalb support MARTA the right way. I wouldn't even be against paying 3 cent for MARTA (1 1/2 cent for operations, 1 cent for maitainence, and 1/2 cent just for MARTA reserves). And we (locals not the state) should determine if that needs to change, meaning if we need to add more money to operations or more to reserves, etc). Lets build a great transit system of heavy and light rail with streetcars, BRT, and more frequent bus service. Also, I'm for charging out of county people to park at stations and also are for tolls for those coming from outside of Fulton and Dekalb to drive on our streets. I would due away with the Breeze system and make those that want to transfer pay full fare to ride MARTA from the other systems.
Just Nasty and Mean July 30, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Bryan Farley--OK, Well if you wish to exclude the burbs from being called a part of metro Atlanta, then pay for your own damned transit and boondoggle projects. And don't expect us in the burbs to pay for it. Have the gumption and intestinal fortitude to "do for yourself" to stand on your own and not constantly depend on others (the burbs) to hold you up. IE: Be a MAN!
Mike Lowry July 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM
Trey, if you want to be like Chicago or New York, then move there. The beauty of the metro Atlanta region is that it is NOT like Chicago or New York. People who move here refuse promotions to stay here. Our lifestyle is the best in the US. Don't screw it up by adding high-density development where the market doesn't demand it. MARTA should be forced to operate on a fare-paid basis and not subsidized by general taxes. If the demand is there for its service, it will survive. If there isn't enough demand, it will die -- as it should.
Kyle Tripp July 30, 2012 at 11:03 PM
I have only one reason to vote no. Too many politicians are pushing way too hard to get this passed. It doesn't feel right. I remember being severely underwhelmed when the first article came out in the AJC detailing the list of projects. I thought, "That's it?!" I won't cave to the thinking being promoted by the pro-TSPLOST contingent that this is our only chance. There are always alternatives.
James July 30, 2012 at 11:04 PM
@ Just Nasty and Mean and dead WRONG The Emory area is the largest job center in the metro with neither transit nor interstate access and it happens to be outside of the city of Atlanta as is the majority of the line. It is on the list because it is the MOST needed transit project in this entire area. Secondly, the Downtown streetcar IS NOT a part of this referendum. And it also goes to Centennial Park but I suppose you don't find that destination as offensive as the MLK center. The fact that you choose to live in sprawl is your choice. So don' then expect the region to fund transit to your sprawl. It is simply not practicalnor is it affordable for transit. Transit is focused around the center of the metro because thats where it is most appropriate. Many potential businesses bypass Atlanta BECAUSE of its sprawl. There are scant few places designed for a human being rather than being designed primarily for the car. I suppose it will take another decade of Atlanta lagging the rest of the country economically for the suburbanites to get over this juvenile "whats in for my county" realize what the rest of the country figured out in the 90's (or sooner).
jimmie July 30, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I vote against TSPLOST because the MARTA riders want it..thats enough for me..they have been feasting off the workers and spenders tax dollars for years...
James July 30, 2012 at 11:19 PM
@Mike Lowry Atlanta doesn't have to be like New York or Chicago but it has no choice but to be a lot better than it is today if it is to continue to thrive. It is fascinating the standards that some require for Marta when the government has been subsidizing this regions sprawl habits by the billions. Lets just let both modes of transportation stand on their own then. Raise the gas taxes enough to FULLY fund the roads so the metro can continue sprawling to the Tennessee border. You are also COMPLETELY wrong on the demand for dense development. Even in this spectacularly bad real estate mess for Atlanta ONLY three walkable intown areas saw appreciation in their home values. The next generation have been there and done that with this suburban blandness and want no part of it. They as well as retiring boomers are going to require dense walkable areas.
James July 30, 2012 at 11:36 PM
That is simply NOT TRUE. Improving the interchanges at 400 & 285, Windy Hill & 75, I-20W & 285, Spaghetti junction alone will absolutley improve traffic not to mention all of the other projects. And I would also like to point out that this is in ADDITION to whatever the GDOT does with funds from the gas taxes. This is not be the end all and be all for road construction nor should it be.
James July 30, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I intended to say that the referendum is not going to be the end all and be all of road projects nor should it be.
Tom Miller July 31, 2012 at 01:12 AM
T-SPLOST doesn't widen any interstates or GA 400 because GDOT wants us to pay tolls in addition to T-SPLOST, the MARTA tax and gas taxes. Look up the GDOT Managed Lanes Plan that will put High Occupancy Toll Lanes on every interstate and on GA 400. What are the most worthless T-SPLOST projects that won't help anyone's commute? Maybe it is the new floor tiles and paint and lighting at the Airport MARTA station, or maybe it is the new elevators and escalators at MARTA stations. What about the 15% that will go to local governments? Roswell City Council said that they want to use their 15% to build a sidewalk from one end of Roswell to the other end. Yep, that will help the traffic in Roswell. The worst thing about T-SPLOST is that it won't help the commute but will take 1% from hardworking folks who would otherwise go to a movie or to a restaurant. How many businesses in the Chamber of Commerce will close because 1% is taken from the Atlanta economy? The answer is to build more capacity where the traffic is: on our interstates and on major roads. Only government would see a demand for roads and respond by allocating 52% of T-SPLOST to mass transit. Please vote NO on T-SPLOST on Tuesday!
Just Nasty and Mean July 31, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Bryan Farley, are you related to Chris--because you sure talk like it. I live in N. Fulton, have paid into MARTA since I move here in 1984, and have little to nothing to show for it. There hasn't been a MARTA vehicle pass w/in 5 miles of my home in a decade--and I STILL PAY THAT FREEKIN TAX TO SEND PEOPLE TO ATLANTA!!! I am SICK of it. If you want to pay more for MARTA, then drop an extra 5 bucks in the hopper every time you ride. Spend your OWN money and stop attempting to compel me to pay for your freaking train ride. Pay for it yourself, you bloodsucking mooch. GOT IT?? LEAVE ME OUT OF IT!!!
jimmie July 31, 2012 at 01:54 AM
If you think the typical metro atlantan is suddenly going to switch from air conditioned comfort including stereo and satellite radio to have to squishing next to the folks on MARTA or any rail in our city, listening to some of the most vile, obscene conversation, get panhandled in the stations by thugs and fight for faces to put a briefcase or luggage, you have been smoking way too much weed!...This is NOTHING more, just as the trolley is, than getting the earners and the spenders to find new ways to Move A's Rapidly Through Atlanta. That was the idea 30 years ago and its the idea today. BIG NO TOMORROW!!!
jimmie July 31, 2012 at 11:19 AM
I'm voting NO because Bob Dallas said to vote yes!
janet h russell August 01, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Mr. MIller here is a correction. The City of Roswell doesn't want to build a sidewalk on Holcomb Bridge to Crossville so that you can walk across Roswell, Mayor Jere Wood wants to do this. And even though I have worked hard for sidewalks and pedestrian accessibility in Roswell for almost 40 years, I think that is a dumb idea. He also wants Garrards Landing Park to be accessible for bike riders - I guess so they can carry their canoes and kayaks on their bikes and put them in the water at Garrards Landing. There are so many much more needed pedestrian and safe biking needs in Roswell that connect where people live to schools, parks, shopping, that this is almost laughable.
janet h russell August 01, 2012 at 02:17 AM
I voted YES and I hope it passes. But if you prefer to sit zombie like for hours each day in your car so that you can live in the suburbs but take advantage of the economic opportunities of a major Metropolitan area, then good luck. But remember, you are not sitting in traffic. YOU ARE TRAFFIC.
President Taft August 01, 2012 at 08:39 AM
If suburban Georgia doesn't want to pay for roads and transit in Atlanta - I say we have a parking tax and a congestion tax - and tax the bloodsuckers who use our roads, our transit, and park on our land. If they want to stay in the burbs and never come into the city (yeah right) - then let them.
James August 01, 2012 at 10:40 AM
"Trey, if you want to be like Chicago or New York, then move there. The beauty of the metro Atlanta region is that it is NOT like Chicago or New York. People who move here refuse promotions to stay here. Our lifestyle is the best in the US. Don't screw it up by adding high-density development where the market doesn't demand it." This might be the most ridiculous paragraph in this entire thread, not an easy achievement. For every person who may 'move here and refuse promotions to stay here' I have a feeling I can show either an entire business that has relocated or one that has been forced to shut down because of arrogant Atlantan attitudes such as this that fail to acknowledge the economy and overall operations of this city which all rank in the bottoms rungs of the country, while attempting to proclaim itself as a top tier metropolitan area. Guess what? Chicago has plenty of non-dense areas much like Atlanta, like the Evanston area, that cooperates with the city of Chicago to increase the value of both the urban and suburban areas to outside businesses.
janet h russell August 01, 2012 at 01:34 PM
How about a use tax for anyone from Cobb county who comes to Roswell to use our parks, attend our concerts but return to Cobb county to spend their money. Stand on SR9 any day , any time and you will see more Cobb license plates than Fulton between the River and Hwy 120. They will never vote for any more taxes for anything as long as they can use Roswell's resources and leave only exhaust as their payment.

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