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Vote Yes to TSPLOST July 31st (15 reasons to do so)

July 25, 2012

  1. It is not a “boondoggle.”  First that isn’t a real word so stop using it.  It’s a buzz word, and probably the most annoying and over used word of the year.  A boondoggle is funding something that is not useful, unnecessary or not used.  Transportation is not one of those things.
  2. Transportation has always been the thing that has moved Atlanta forward.  It started with freight rail, then roads, then the airport.  The only logical thing that will continue to move Atlanta forward is more transit and better roads.  If you think that isn’t true, look west at Birmingham.
  3. It isn’t just road contractors and heavy equipment companies that are supporting it.  Cox Communications, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, SunTrust, Wells Fargo, General Electrical, Rubbermaid, AAA, AT&T, Bank of America, BB&T, Cisco, Clear Channel, Delta, Equifax, Georgia Power, several partners from Ernst & Young, Mercedes Benz of Buckhead, Metro Atlanta Automobile Dealers, Verizon, Waffle House, Turner, and countless other small banks and private businesses unrelated to transportation all donated in support of the campaign.  If this wasn’t so important to this region then why would several companies not headquartered here have such a vested interest?  Why would Bank of America, headquarter in arguably our biggest competitor, offer up $50,000?  Why would an auto dealers organization support something that a majority of supports its biggest competitor? Why would an airline be in support of roads and trains?  Because all of them know how important this is.  That we have to do something to improve our transportation issues, and being that several of those companies have a vested interest in traffic being that they move so many goods and services, they probably have a pretty good idea of what they are talking about.
  4. It is not racist, partisan, class associated, or any other potential sub group that you could imagine, invent, or perceive.  Mayor Reed pointed it out best.  They did exactly what the people asked for.  A bi-partisan, bi-racial, suburb and urban group of people got together and hammered out a list of projects that everyone benefits from.
  5. Telecommuting will not solve our issues.  It’s a novel idea, and wouldn’t we all like to sit on our sofa in our pjs and do our work.  But an architect cannot manage a construction project from a sofa.  A construction worker can’t build a building or road from their house.  The AJC can’t print newspapers in each home.  Television cannot be broadcast from each workers home.  UPS cannot move physical goods from at home workers, and the list can go on and on.  Telecommuting is not a new idea.  It has never, and will never supplant the need for physical presence.   And you cannot replace face to face interaction and the requirements of a job simply because we want to avoid traffic while doing nothing about it.  It is another feeble attempt to solve a problem while asking very little of our citizens.  Something we apparently are becoming experts at doing.
  6. Future toll roads as an alternative will not solve anything.  It will not close the 48% budget gap that exists in roadway funding.  And being that opponents of TSPLOST only want tolls on new roads, please show me where we could possibly introduce new roads, that will be tolls, that still get people to places efficiently and cant be dodged by other roadways with no tolls.  Don’t worry, I will wait for the answer.  (Psst here is a hint.  HOT lanes didn’t work and everyone demanded that 400 have its toll taken down.)
  7. Future of the region depends on it.  We can continue to live in the fantasy land that the next politician can bring back the glory days of 99 cent gasoline but it isn’t happening.  Gas isn’t getting any cheaper, nor are cars.  Adding more roads only creates induced traffic.  An alternative to roads has to be incorporated.  (Even if it is just 52% of the list Sierra Club.)
  8. There will be no better list.  It took years just to get this list and legislation put together.  If we stall on this now any second attempt will waste further years.  More years that other cities will be catching up to us or blowing right past us.  Sierra Club can demand 90% transit and tea partiers can demand transit be taken off the list, but regardless we would never get far enough to make another list.  And even if we did, sticking to one ideal will not get it to pass.  It isn’t a perfect list, but it represents a bi-partisan, regional cooperative that addresses everyone’s needs.
  9. This is not a 14% tax increase.  Well it is, but it also isn’t.  That 14% is pretty misleading.  It is a penny.  A PENNY.  On top of an already rather low rate.  So by increasing it and doing math that generates a number that sounds scarier then a penny, it does sound like a lot.  But if you had a dollar in your pocket and found another on the ground would you then proceed to exclaim that you now increased your financial holdings by 100%?  Only if you were attempting to mislead people.  It is a factual statement, but a misleading one at that.
  10. This doesn’t just benefit Atlanta.  Sure Atlanta has the big ticket items in terms of transit.  But it should.  There are gaps that need to be filled.  You can’t spread out your transit when the core is in desperate need of its own expansion.  How do you think we got into this suburban sprawl traffic mess in the first place? Spreading resources too thin, and expanding before the essential needs were taken care of.  And remember ye olde faithful of the suburbs; your cities and counties would not exist if it wasn’t for the economic and innovation powerhouse that is the city of Atlanta.
  11. This is what young professionals want.  Face it over 50 crew, those under 35 are leading the way from here on out.  That is where the innovation is coming from, that is where the ideas are coming from.  You may think we sit around and play video games and play with our i-whatever gadgets all day but we don’t.  We invent, we design, we innovate, we create, we inspire, and we develop.  That same group of people no longer want the “American Dream.”  We don’t want to be tied down by an oversized house and an oversized car.  In order to attract that top talent, the same top young talent that has transformed or maintained Boston, New York, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland, Denver, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and so many other places, the infrastructure must be provided.  I would much rather live in a city that can find itself among the economic elite such as those rather than the alternatives of dying industrial and company towns like that of Birmingham, Detroit, Cleveland, and Memphis. There is a shift in lifestyles in this country, and as much as some may want to deny it, the people who will push this country, city, and economy forward are no longer obsessed with keeping up with their neighbors in a suburban wasteland or spending countless hours staring at someone else’s vanity plate.  The car no longer represents the same “freedom” it did for those that now oppose transit.  You were given the opportunity to obtain the lifestyle you wanted.  Expansive roadways and low-density development at minimal to no cost, which we are all now paying extensively for.  I think it is time to give the alternative the opportunity to work.  The same alternative that has been undeniably successful in so many other cities.
  12. Fiscal responsibility.  For all the talk of wasted tax dollars and fiscal irresponsibility, I can’t think of a bigger financial waste then on something that spends a majority of its life parked or stuck in traffic.  And it’s a growing percentage of a family’s income.  Increasing so much that it has transformed from a luxury, to a necessity, to now a financial burden.  The dollars that we don’t have to waste on cars, or even just on gas for sitting in congestion is cycled back through the local economy.  Those dollars saved mean an extra drink at the local bar.  An extra night out at a local restaurant, or an extra purchase from a local store.  Or better yet, extra money in the bank, that can help us avoid financial pitfalls that may arise in the future.  But if we do spend it, it is money that cycles back through the local economy rather than to Exxon or some 60 month mid interest rate auto loan.
  13. It will help in traffic congestion.  No it may not be noticed on every single person’s commute, but it will have an impact.  It will get more people out of their cars.  It will free up space on the existing roadways.  Improved roads and interchanges will allow for a smoother traffic flow.  This vote will not be the end all be all solution to our traffic problems.  But it is a start.  It is a start to hopefully many more initiatives that will utilize an efficient mix of transit, technology, and a more intelligent roadway system that will help put congestion relief in motion.
  14. It will create jobs.  It is hard to say how many, but no one can say that it wont have an impact.  There will be the initial construction jobs for roads, rails, and streetscape improvements.  That will be followed by redevelopment and improved development in many of those areas that see these transportation improvements.  It will make relocating and expanding companies take a second look at Atlanta.  Recognizing that we are attempting to be proactive in regards to our issues rather than kicking the can down the road, or taking paths that solve little while asking very little of our residents.  It will show that we are willing to work cooperatively and cohesively as a region to solve our issues and are dedicated to creating a region that values quality of life as well as options for its residents and industries.
  15. Because we cant simply sit back and do nothing while expecting something.  The entire anti-TSPLOST campaign has been built off of no.  No to a tax.  No to transit.  No to anything that could improve our region.  And they offer no alternative solutions that are viable or would make a true impact.  Telecommuting is not one of them.  It is a lazy piss poor excuse to solve a problem without having to take any action or sacrifice.  Toll roads will not work, especially with the stipulation that they have to put on new roads and not on existing roads.  There are no new roads to be built.  And while that toll may cover the cost of that specific road (which is highly unlikely as many people will attempt to avoid it like the plague) it still doesn’t solve the 48% gap that exists in funding roadways.  Other than that, they have presented no alternatives.  They want to vote this down under the premise that somewhere along the line we will come up with alternatives.  But we wont.  There isn’t a timed traffic light, a diverging diamond, a Disney world private invested mono-rail, a toll road, or a 24 lane super expressway that can dig us out of this mess.  It will take a combination of ideas.  A balanced mix of road, transit, and pedestrian improvements.  A balanced mix just like the one represented in TSPLOST.

Vote yes next Tuesday to keep Atlanta moving!

And if you can think of any other reasons to vote yes, by all means add them to our comment board.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 31, 2012 4:10 pm

    First of all, it is dishonest to say that it is “just a penny” — it is a penny on EVERY DOLLAR you spend. A $30,000 car will cost $300 more. There is nothing dishonest in that math.

    It is also dishonest to say that the T-SPLOST will create jobs. (It also shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics.) This is NOT free money. Yes, new jobs will be created in the construction industry, but they will be offset, dollar for dollar, by jobs lost in the private sector. If you wish to transfer jobs from other industries to road construction, so be it, but at least be honest about it.

    Please explain how the Beltline will improve traffic? Or an airport control tower? They do not and will not. One is a development project that has been unable to attract private-sector money, and the other is a political favor — just two examples of projects that should not be included.

    The answer to funding the projects on this list (at least the worthy ones) is increased gas taxes, but no politician in this state has the courage to suggest that. At least that way the tax would be paid by the people that receive the benefit — commuters.

    • UrbanCommuter permalink*
      July 31, 2012 5:07 pm

      It is just a penny, a penny on the dollar. No one is disputing that. It is a dollar for every 100 and it is 300 on 30,000. But if 300 dollars determines whether you can buy a 30,000 car, then you probably should be considering a less expensive car. If 1 dollar on every 100 you spend determines your purchases, you probably have other self created internal financial issues that should be worked out indepentley instead of against a program that could push our region forward.

      It is not dishonest to say it will create jobs. If it was then the anti-TSPLOST group would be able to provide a study proving that and not just saying “no it wont.” It will create construction jobs. But it will also create development jobs, architect jobs, retail jobs. Projects like the Clifton Rd corridor will allow me to more frequently visit an area that I wouldnt have before because I will not require a car do so. Which means more of my income I am putting into local businesses and restaurants which equates to more business and higher income for them. Which then equals jobs. It will increase pedestrian traffic, which has an astounding effect on businesses.

      I do not think an airport control tower will relieve congestion, and I do not personally like it on the list. But if you would have read more than just the one post you decided to comment on you would know that while I am not in favor of everything on this list, I do know that sacrifices have to be made in order to achieve greater things. A level of compromise that clearly you or the Sierra Club are not capable of doing. The Beltline will have an impact on traffic. Maybe not on your commute, or even mine. But for others it will. It will open to modes of movement through the city for residents. Create development and business opportunities for others. And lessen the dependency of an automobile in the city. A big complaint from suburban commuters who claim they feel stranded in the city without a car because of the lack of a more comprehensive intown rail system.

      I favor an increase in gas tax as well. But here is the problem. If you only do it through gas and tolls (another favorite of the anti group) not everyone contributes.
      Those that live in the city will not pay the toll. I personally do not purchase gasoline or would have to pay a toll. So I would still be getting my transit and pedestrian projects, and I wouldnt have to pay a dime for it. Instead TSPLOST creates a fair opportunity where we all contribute, and we all benefit. But if you want it the other way, and allow me to get off free without paying anything, then so be it, I wont complain. But when you come back complaining that everyone isnt paying into this, just remember that I, rather we, who were in support of TSPLOST, all offered to do so.

      • August 1, 2012 9:32 am

        There is no such thing as a free lunch. If new taxes equal new jobs, then why not add 5 cents, or 10 cents, or even 50? Think of all the jobs we would create!

        It is basic economics. It is easy to see new jobs created, but very hard to see the jobs lost. Every penny that would have been diverted to this project is a penny NOT spent elsewhere in the economy.

        New jobs (gross) would have been created, but the number of net jobs would not have changed. If it weren’t so, government could simply conjure up new jobs with new taxes. It doesn’t work that way.

        Job creation should never have been part of the argument for the SPLOST. When the primary argument is a lie, you leave voters wondering how many other lies are lurking.

        If transportation officials had been honest with the voters from the beginning, instead of constantly lying to them, and then making up bogus arguments for the tax, it might have had a chance.

        Many of these projects are worthy, and need to get funded and built, but this SPLOST was ill-advised and doomed to failure. Maybe now the legislature can get to work on a realistic (and honest) solution.

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