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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.

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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