Vote for TSPLOST? Not a Chance

Does anybody think the Georgia Department of Transportation deserves one cent of sales tax money? I don't. Here's why.

The mid summer elections are coming up, and the weather isn't the only thing that's HOT come July.

T-SPLOST, or the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is one issue that has a lot of people fired up this election cycle. With good reason, too...In case you haven't noticed, traffic around here is a mess.

Highway 20 in Grayson is a frustrating commute during rush hour, despite the recent ba-jillion dollar widening project. Loganville Chic-fil-A hires an off-duty policeman each day, just so it's customers can make a right turn on 78. That pretty much sums up the traffic situation in the 'Ville. The further west you go, the worse the situation gets.

There's literally no way around this fact: Atlanta traffic sucks. Expert studies invariably come to the conclusion that there are too many cars on the road at the same time. Really now? No kidding. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Here, have some tax money for your effort!

So now the State DOT wants to fix the problem. Again. Just like they've been "fixing" it for over a decade now, namely to plan expensive projects with minimal impact on traffic patterns. And they are asking you for more of your money to do it.

Let's look at a couple of those brilliant ideas of yore, shall we? Let's start with the Georgia 400 toll booths.

In 1991, The road extension into Buckhead was proposed but the toll suggested to pay for it was unpopular. Politicians "promised" that once the bonds expired in 2011, the toll would be lifted. Opponents remained skeptical, but the decision to build the tollway passed. They Promised!

Well...of course one generation's promise means little to the next. So few people were surprised when, in one of his last decisions in office, lame duck Gov. Sonny Perdue quietly extended the tolls for another ten years in late 2010. The long expected broken promise came to pass.

Then there are the I-85 H.O.T. Lanes. In my opinion, this has got to be one of the dumbest and ill-conceived attempts to alleviate traffic, in the history of ever. In fact, let's just call them that from now on: D.U.M.B. Lanes. I'll come up with words for the acronym later.

So let me see if I have this right. In order to free up traffic, you take an existing H.O.V. lane, restrict it to people who have a special pass and make them pay an ever-adjusting fee. Just for fun, add some super-confusing signage! Genius! How could this not work??!!

The biggest problem with the D.U.M.B. Lanes is also the most ironic...The less people who pay the toll, the greater the benefit to those who do.  That's right, folks...the D.U.M.B. Lanes only work when all the other lanes are clogged up! Those losers stuck in the loser lanes can either get with the program or deal with it.

Or they can vote to give the DOT even MORE of their tax money so they can fund even MORE brilliant ideas!

I don't think so. I've read what they plan to do with that money.

Metro Atlanta Region 3, which includes Gwinnett, would get the lion's share.  Meanwhile, Region 5 (Walton and points east towards Athens) stands to see improvements on major corridors like Ga. 316. Much of the monies collected would be distributed to the local governments for use on local roadways. They say. They PROMISE!

They Promise. Again. It's gonna be great this time! You'll see!

Frankly, I don't care what they promise. Promises mean nothing from a government agency with a sordid history of breaking them and making such D.U.M.B. decisions even when they aren't making back room deals. They might as well promise free rides to work on a magic unicorn, for all their promises are worth. 

What the debacle of the Toll Road and the D.U.M.B. Lanes has taught me is that the State's policymakers simply are not listening to you and I on how to spend out tax money. Well, I hope they hear us in July. I will be pressing the NO button as loudly as I can this summer and I suggest you do the same.

KellyW June 12, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I will be voting yes! It is about time that the city of Atlanta takes the time to develop projects, set out a plan that will target the metro Atlanta area and execute it. Atlanta needs to get it's transportation infrastructure up to par with other major cities.
Anne Thomas June 12, 2012 at 11:37 AM
"Thanks you all for your comments. Proponents will tell you that these projects are needed, and there is truth in that. " That's the reason to vote yes. It's going to cost the average person what $150/yr? For 10 years and approximately $7B worth of major transportation improvements? That's worth it to me even if the projects focus on only the 4 interchanges along the top end of the perimeter. Also, the legislation was designed to keep GDOT as out of the process as possible. GDOT will not be managing or administering the money collected. Department of Revenue and GSFIC will. Local municipalities have the option of internally handling the delivery of projects within their respective jurisdictions. This gives US more power! Hopefully, Jeffrey, you're frequently talking to your Commissioner about how your County plans to handle the implementation of the projects. What has he/she said? If you don't like it, vote him/her out! You have the power here. Lastly, your 400/HOT lane example is a perfect reason to vote yes. Managed Lanes, toll roads, etc. become more prevalent when there are major capital improvements needed but a lack of funds. What do you not see in the TIA project lists? What will you see more of if the TIA fails? That's right - managed lanes and toll roads. A YES vote on July 31 is a no vote to tolls!
Jeffrey Allen June 12, 2012 at 04:17 PM
"A yes vote on July 31 is a no vote to tolls" Surely you don't believe that. The "Expired" Ga 400 Toll is on the books for at least the next decade. The D.U.M.B. Lane concept is here to stay as well. I take it you're not a proponent of these tolls? And by rewarding this behavior with a YES, You seriously expect the tolls to just go away? Really? I'd love to see some facts to support that assertion. It has the appearance of wishful thinking.
Anne Thomas June 13, 2012 at 09:14 PM
No, tolls won't go away, we'll just have more new roads with them sooner without the TIA. Capital improvements for our transportation infrastructure are necessities to our way of life. They must be funded some way. There are generally two ways to fund transportation improvements - tax (fuel, sales, etc.), and user fees (tolls). Money must be generated some way - sales tax is generally considered the most painless and equitable (also why I support a national sales tax rather than our current system).
Jeffrey Allen July 17, 2012 at 09:50 PM
OK so we agree that tolls won't go away, right? Two problems here... #1: If tolls won't go away, as you correctly state, then how a "Yes vote a no vote for tolls!!!" ? Those two statements contradict. #2...If the tolls don't go away, as you have stated, then how does Continued tolls + New 1% Sales tax for a state agency with a long and sordid history of wastefulness and outright lies somehow = Good deal for taxpayers? How does that work?


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