Today marks the one year anniversary that we were one of only a handful of communities in America that said no to improving transportation in 2012. Last August I thought we were taking a massive step backwards as a region, but thankfully North Carolina has allowed Pat McCrory and their state legislature to wreck nearly every major element to the state’s social, race, sex, and education welfare, so fortunately we don’t look so bad. We may be one of the few communities in the country that can’t put together a regional plan for transportation but at least we don’t hate everyone that isn’t an old white man. Thank you North Carolina! You are making us look like progressive pioneers of the South.
But anyways. TSPLOST got office linebackered last year with the intent that we could produce something better in a plan B. Plan B….Plan B….Plan B….searching for that Plan B proposal somewhere. Ah that’s right there is no Plan B. You see Debbie Dooley, Vincent Fort, and the Sierra Club really had no intentions for a Plan B. And even if they did, they were clearly clueless as to how difficult that would be. We haven’t heard much from Debbie Dooley since then, Vincent Fort doesn’t even show up in a Google News search, and the Sierra Club is well still the Sierra Club. While those transportation geniuses were busy “working” on a Plan B us Atlantans have been stuck in traffic, waiting for our transit expansions, and have listened to a new proposal that will turn the Turner Field to Downtown connection into an Disney/Epcot/Las Vegas/Orlando Airport like corridor. Hopefully that Maglev will be zipping right over those driverless cars that are coming or some other super funky transportation idea that will likely be dismantled after a few years. (In case you couldn’t tell I do think the MagLev is pretty much a stupid idea. Need proof; just look for all the failed monorails around the world that cities have attempted to use. And if they haven’t failed they are on life support, or charge a fare so ridiculously high it isnt worth it. You can talk levitation all you want, but it’s basically a monorail.)
So we all got shafted by false promises. That isn’t really something new from a politician; they have a pretty strong record of that. But it is surprising from a group such as the Sierra Club, who touted how they were working so closely with their Tea Party foes to create a glorious unified and passable transportation plan. Except that the Sierra Club forgot to pay attention to the fact that the Tea Party wanted nothing to do with a new tax, and even less to do with supporting anything that didn’t involve a Ford F-150, unlimited gasoline, and a wide open interstate for them to utilize. In fact if you go to the Sierra Club website they have been mum on the issue since one week following the failure of TSPLOST. They did provide a cordial post on how the region is working on a Plan B and somehow found it relevant that while MARTA doesn’t receive state funding that is somehow related to how they don’t have open data. I would respond to that, but I am trying to keep this post short.
As for the other players? Well part of the reason people didn’t vote for TSPLOST was their lack of trust in GDOT to manage and handle their financial portion. So Nathan Deal felt that it would be reasonable to not only announce the tolls would be dead on 400 right before the vote, but immediately declared that we would be building one costly interchange at I-285 and 400. That will help improve the publics’ image of GDOT. Remove a source of revenue while adding a massive new expense. That deafening sound of silence you just heard, that was the Georgia Tea Party and most Conservatives shutting their mouths. “Fiscal Responsibility! Unless it is something that benefits us.” Amazing how those same anti-tax, fiscal responsible citizens have yet to speak up about the waste that will be that new interchange. I guess that whole self preservation thing can get in the way sometimes. And let us not forget their expanded financial commitment to those plush suburban commuter buses. Chip Rodgers? The infamous legislator that said yes to TSPLOST but then changed his mind when he realized his job might be in jeopardy and quickly became the rising Georgia GOP superstar? He abandoned ship not long after to go work for GPB. I am still waiting for the other shoe to drop from that story. Kasim Reed? He is a little busy right now making sure we get that lovely new stadium that we have all been clamoring for, while possibly providing a few churches that are in the way a windfall in their donation plate. Warning, the bake sale might get cancelled this year. (Though as of yesterday it appears the site will be moving a bit north – even further from the nearest transit stations.)
Other than that not much has changed. We did get a new leader at MARTA who seems to understand the intangibles to successful transit and how to navigate the local climate towards it. Thankfully the bill to force the privatization of some MARTA services did not go through, but I think that will turn into another legislation battle in the next session that will need our attention. The streetcar is progressing nicely so the past year hasn’t been a total loss in advancing transit and the push for TOD’s around some of MARTA’s stations has been a good sign. Hopefully providing us with some quality new development around transit.
But while all those that assisted in the pummeling of TSPLOST have been “busy” working on our Plan B, you and I have been standing on the platform waiting on that next train. Only it seems like the headway is getting longer and longer.