Future of MARTA Inexorably Tied to TSPLOST
MARTA needs a bigger pool from which to draw funds. TSPLOST is that pool.
Do you ever get bad vibes that something just isn't coming across right? I have been reading the newspapers and watching television about the list of projects which have been submitted on a "wish list" by the cities, counties, MARTA (especially MARTA), plus one CID from within our ten-county regional transportation district.
To reiterate, our ten-county regional transportation district is comprised of Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties. One of the more sensible projects on the Gwinnett County list is the widening of Dacula Road/Harbins Road from Fence Road to S.R. 316 at an estimated cost of $49.8 million dollars. I suppose the project would also include replacing the bridge over the CSX Railroad. Those of us who travel this corridor daily can vouch for this project. I was delighted when I read this project was among those on Gwinnett County's "wish list."
However, wishful thinking on my part is about all that is going to happen when this project hits our 21-member regional transportation district roundtable. Why? If I understand the guidelines of the Transportation Investment Act of 2010, those projects which make the final cut must have a regional impact.
From day one, I have felt that TSPLOST 2012 was predicated on the Atlanta Regional Commission Transit Planning Board (TIB) 2008 Concept Plan 3 Regional Transit Vision. It is my understanding that the TIB is now called the Transit Implementation Board. I surmise that the 2008 Concept Plan 3 Regional Transit Vision has undergone charges which perhaps lays down with TSPLOST 2012. The one thing that I do not expect has changed is that whatever year the Concept Plan 3 is now designated, all roads still lead to Rome with Rome, in my opinion, being the "new Five Points" in downtown Atlanta within the area known as the "gulch" where the new Multimodal Terminal is being pushed by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
To see the "wish list" of all projects submitted by each city, each county, MARTA, and the one CID, click here or view the .pdf file above. Take a hard look at MARTA's "wish list." How is a MARTA Elevator and Escalator Rehabilitation Project at an estimated cost of $123.4 millon dollars going to relieve traffic congestion? Am I missing something here?
I don't think there is any doubt that the future of MARTA is inexorably tied to its inclusion in a regional transportation plan. Independently, MARTA is unsustainable. Only with outside income, such as the billions of tax dollars TSPLOST would generate would MARTA continue to be able to operate. MARTA needs a bigger pool to draw funds from. TSPLOST is that pool.
Inclusion of MARTA in a regional transportation system is the answer to their problems and the beginning of ours. Why? In addition to our funding via TSPLOST, what about federal and state grants and subsidies? Perhaps we should contact our congressman, two U.S. senators, state representative and state senator and ask the question, "Is MARTA receiving federal grants and subsidies and if so, how much?"
Once you start feeding public transit systems at the taxpayer funded trough, they are kind of like hogs, you have to continue to feed them. We have neglected our roads, bridges, and interchanges infrastructure in metro Atlanta over the years simply because we have not had the revenue coming into our Georgia Department of Transportation to upgrade same to match the continuing volume of traffic.
TSPLOST 2012 gives us the opportunity to improve our roads, bridges and interchanges if we invest TSPLOST dollars where the dollars will do the most good in improving traffic mobility throughout our ten-county regional transportation district instead of throwing good money after bad in the way of grandiose rail projects which, if built, would require ongoing taxpayer subsidies for their upkeep.
Remember, the project "wish list" will continue to be finalized. By June 1, we should have a good knowledge of what will be coming our way on the project list. If after June 1, the project list contains "fluff" projects such as bicycle/pedestrian trails, developer's choo choos (light rail), streetscapes, etc., there would still be time to let your members to the roundtable know of the fallacy of such projects.
This could possibly produce gridlock, which given some of the projects on the list, especially MARTA, would not be all that bad. Should this not happen, there is always the opportunity to defeat TSPLOST 2012 at the ballot box. Whether gridlock or defeat at the ballot box, perhaps we can show those who plan to spend $5 million to $6 million dollars convincing us that we should vote for TSPLOST 2012 that the power of government is still vested in "We the people." That's the way I see it.