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How will TSPLOST fare at the Polls?

Advance voting is underway in Georgia, and supporters and opponents of TSPLOST are waiting to see if voters will approve TSPLOST.

Editor's note: The following is an opinion piece from a Patch Local Voices blogger and does not necessarily reflect the views of Patch.

According to recent polling conducted by Rosetta Stone for WSB-TV, TSPLOST, or Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is losing support in Metro Atlanta.

The poll indicated that 56 percent of metro Atlantans oppose the transportation referendum while only 33 percent support it.  Twelve percent were undecided. Significantly, TSPLOST is losing support in Fulton and Dekalb counties for the first time.

Why is this legislation on transportation sputtering and struggling to survive? Supporters have spent big dollar amounts to promote the gargantuan transportation package, touting its promise to “untie Atlanta.” But closer analysis of the “project lists” reveals shocking shortcomings and the lack of a unified plan that could even begin to impact the traffic problems that prevail in metro Atlanta.

Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s issue analysis provides an in-depth look at the policies presented in this complex legislation.  The transportation package divides Georgia into 12 regions, each voting separately on whether to raise sales tax by one cent. However, an individual city or county cannot simply vote to opt-out if the region passes the tax.

The projects specified on each of the regional project lists do not function together as a whole to solve the recurring traffic snarls that are earmarks of metro Atlanta. In fact, in farming out the lists to regional authorities rather than crafting a workable solution to the area's traffic woes, the legislature has utterly failed.

The GPPF analysis notes that

(a)n Atlanta project list focused on mobility and congestion mitigation would include a network of upgraded expressways, managed arterials and enhanced Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) service. Modifying the Downtown Connector or creating a parallel expressway west of downtown could substantially reduce congestion.

Instead, TSPLOST allocates 52 percent of the metro Atlanta funding to rail transit. This amount of money is being wasted since “only 3.6 percent of metro Atlanta commuters use transit.”

It is also important to note that some of the  was added by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and is being challenged as political interference and promotional language. The language that was added to the ballot follows:

“Provides for local transportation projects to create jobs and reduce traffic congestion with citizen oversight.”

The Secretary of State’s addition to the ballot cited above amounts to unsubstantiated claims that are, in reality, false on each count.

University of Georgia professor Charles Bullock made the following observations on TSPLOST :

So although tons of money is being spent to encourage voting for the T-SPLOST and the support of the Chamber of Commerce, it looks like it will go down to defeat….We have the interesting phenomenon of disagreement between many GOP leaders and a group usually closely associated with the GOP (the Chamber).

Bullock concluded: "With GOP leadership unwilling to step forward and reassure conservative, anti-tax voters that the projects to be funded with the T-SPLOST are meritorious, there is scant prospect for approval."

Cheryl Lavette of Smart Girl Politics in Atlanta offered her view of the referendum:

VOTE NO to Georgia's largest tax increase in history on July 31st. Honestly, who would dare to raise taxes on us RIGHT NOW with 8.2% unemployment and anemic economic growth, not to even mention that it will do NOTHING to 'untie' Atlanta. Big business and contractors aim to benefit and are pumping money into the project. And, many calling themselves conservatives at our state Capitol are proponents of this referendum. We will remember when these officials are up for re-election. Seriously, the audacity!

Advance voting in Georgia is coming to a close, and the final votes will be cast on Tuesday, July 31st.

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.

Adam L July 26, 2012 at 07:31 PM
"Instead, TSPLOST allocates 52 percent of the metro Atlanta funding to rail transit. This amount of money is being wasted since “only 3.6 percent of metro Atlanta commuters use transit.”" Uh, did you ever consider more would take rail if the system was expanded? Everyone I know and work with on the Clifton Corridor would if passenger rail someday services the area. If we don't have rail improvements as part of our future, Atlanta will wilt on the vine. It's disappointing to see how short-sighted people can be.
ChadK July 26, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I agree with Adam. My favorite comment was Sen. Vincent Fort who said "what they are not telling you when you go to the store to get your milk and bread you are going to have to pay an extra penny,". Sure... let Atlanta continue to fall behind in transit, as long as we don't have to pay that penny. Come on, people. As for usage... I admit that I don't use public transit because Marta doesn't service enough areas. But TIA-AR-037 (Marta heavy rail extension from North Springs to Holcomb Bridge Road) would take my car off the road 4 days a week and save me $60 per week in gas. And if Beltline transit and additional street cars (North Avenue and Peachtree) were in place I would most certainly use them frequently. Vote YES.
MG July 27, 2012 at 01:37 PM
This is a sad editorial. The projects chosen were part of a regional process that including representatives from the 10 counties and city of ATL. People donct understand the theory behind building new roads. Often when a highway is expanded for millions and millions of dollars the road is at the same congestion level as it was in three years and the investment is lost. Options need to be provided to people and transit is part of those options. If we continue on our past trajectory and building more highway lanes, cutting through our neighborhoods and polluting our environment no one is going to want to live here. All the young talented people we develop in our universities will go to other more livable cities. I know this sounds like bull, but speaking for myself and my friends all young professionals, we want something more than Atlanta is currently offering. We want quality neighborhoods with quality transit. Honestly, I don't know why anyone in the highlands would say no, these investments are only going to raise the property values for our neighborhood, including beginning the redevelopment of pounce. Vote YES!

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