The mid summer elections are coming up, and the weather isn't the only thing that's HOT this July.
T-SPLOST, or the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, is one issue that has a lot of people fired up this election cycle. With good reason, too...In case you haven't noticed, traffic around here is a mess.
Highway 20 in Grayson is a frustrating commute during rush hour, despite the recent ba-jillion dollar widening project. Loganville Chic-fil-A hires an off-duty policeman each day, just so it's customers can make a right turn on 78. That pretty much sums up the traffic situation in the 'Ville. The further west you go, the worse the situation gets.
There's literally no way around this fact: Atlanta traffic sucks. Expert studies invariably come to the conclusion that there are too many cars on the road at the same time. Really now? No kidding. Thank you, Captain Obvious. Here, have some tax money for your effort!
So now the State DOT wants to fix the problem. Again. Just like they've been "fixing" it for over a decade now, namely to plan expensive projects with minimal impact on traffic patterns. And they are asking you for more of your money to do it.
Let's look at a couple of those brilliant ideas of yore, shall we? Let's start with the Georgia 400 toll booths.
In 1991, The road extension into Buckhead was proposed but the toll suggested to pay for it was unpopular. Politicians "promised" that once the bonds expired in 2011, the toll would be lifted. Opponents remained skeptical, but the decision to build the tollway passed. They Promised!
Well...of course one generation's promise means little to the next. So few people were surprised when, in one of his last decisions in office, lame duck Gov. Sonny Perdue quietly extended the tolls for another ten years in late 2010. The long expected broken promise came to pass.
Then there are the I-85 H.O.T. Lanes. In my opinion, this has got to be one of the dumbest and ill-conceived attempts to alleviate traffic, in the history of ever. In fact, let's just call them that from now on: D.U.M.B. Lanes. I'll come up with words for the acronym later.
So let me see if I have this right. In order to free up traffic, you take an existing H.O.V. lane, restrict it to people who have a special pass and make them pay an ever-adjusting fee. Just for fun, add some super-confusing signage! Genius! How could this not work??!!
The biggest problem with the D.U.M.B. Lanes is also the most ironic...The less people who pay the toll, the greater the benefit to those who do. That's right, folks...the D.U.M.B. Lanes only work when all the other lanes are clogged up! Those losers stuck in the loser lanes can either get with the program or deal with it.
Or they can vote to give the DOT even MORE of their tax money so they can fund even MORE brilliant ideas!
I don't think so. I've read what they plan to do with that money.
Metro Atlanta Region 3, which includes Gwinnett, would get the lion's share. Meanwhile, Region 5 (Walton and points east towards Athens) stands to see improvements on major corridors like Ga. 316. Much of the monies collected would be distributed to the local governments for use on local roadways. They say. They PROMISE!
They Promise. Again. It's gonna be great this time! You'll see!
Frankly, I don't care what they promise. Promises mean nothing from a government agency with a sordid history of breaking them and making such D.U.M.B. decisions even when they aren't making back room deals. They might as well promise free rides to work on a magic unicorn, for all their promises are worth.
What the debacle of the Toll Road and the D.U.M.B. Lanes has taught me is that the State's policymakers simply are not listening to you and I on how to spend out tax money. Well, I hope they hear us in July. I will be pressing the NO button as loudly as I can this summer and I suggest you do the same.