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OUR VIEW: HOT lanes hot button for road tax

Transportation officials are pinning their hopes of improving metro Atlanta's commute with a regional penny sales tax.

The TSPLOST (transportation special purpose local option sales tax) is estimated to raise up to $7 billion over 10 years for road and transit initiatives.

These penny sales taxes (in Gwinnett County we already have one for the county and another for the schools) are an effective, efficient way to raise capital dollars unavailable otherwise. Consider the parks, libraries, schools, road improvements, etc., Gwinnett County would be without had these taxes not been in place.

As with these other penny sales taxes, TSPLOST must be approved by voters. Due to the latest transportation initiative unloaded on downtown commuters, the possibility of a TSPLOST defeat looms larger each day.

If TSPLOST has any chance of passing, voters need to have confidence in the vision of the Georgia DOT and state officials. Right now, that confidence is shot.

The cause of this drop in commuter confidence is the HOT lanes program that turned the HOV commuter lane along a 16-mile stretch of Interstate 85 into a toll lane. Since the switch Oct. 1, the federally funded demonstration project has been, in most minds, an unmitigated disaster.

Few are using the toll lane, the free lanes are even more clogged and access points are too few and far between. Overall, the system is confusing, complicated, difficult and intimidating.

A public forum in Buford on Monday designed to clear the air has made things even worse. Attendees thought they'd been "bamboozled" when only a portion of the meeting was dedicated to the HOT lane controversy.

All this has put the voting citizenry in a foul mood. Not what you want if you're a proponent of the TSPLOST referendum that will be on the ballot in the summer of 2012.

Gov. Nathan Deal has taken a few steps to ease the pain, but a lot more has to be done to turn this sow's ear into a silk purse.

Overall, the TSPLOST is much more part of Atlanta's traffic solution than the HOT lanes. It would be a terrible mistake to keep one and sacrifice the other.

The voting citizenry couldn't be more agitated than it is right now. That doesn't bode well for the TSPLOST initiative that must be passed if Atlanta has any hope of improving traffic flow.

Georgia DOT and other state officials need to regroup and come up with a way to improve the commutes or abandon the program.

Comments

Enik 3 years, 1 month ago

I will vote NO and I encourage others to do so as well.

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LilburnLady 3 years ago

I will vote no on TSPLOST.

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Mack711 3 years ago

We have no confidence in GDOT or espically SRTA after what they have done to us. With this in mind TSPLOT can not pass. When it does hopefully SRTA will go away, FAT chance!! But at least a clear message will be sent by us the voters. Lets clean house in 2012 and get these FAT cats out of office. NO more funds for a any SPLOT until they here us loud and clear.

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jack 3 years ago

With politicians continually imposing fees, tariffs, levies, assessments, surcharges, duties and encumbrances, why would anyone wish to vote yet another tax upon themselves?

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ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years ago

After a month of LONGER commutes and DRAMATICALLY INCREASED gridlock on freeways like I-85 & I-285 and surface roads alike, it's too late as the damage to the T-SPLOST has been more than done.

Asking Gwinnettians to raise their taxes after a series of continuing "missteps", very questionable decisions and outright scandals directly involving high-ranking members of the local government of the state's second largest county in which the GOP's largest single local voter base resides was already asking a whole lot.

But asking Gwinnettians to even consider voting for the T-SPLOST after getting a month long first-hand "demonstration" in the way that their higher taxes will be spent by wildly incompentent government officials is COMPLETELY out of the question.

The HOT lanes debacle and the proposed projects on the T-SPLOST are not one in the same, but the way that the HOT lanes were "introduced" to the public by effectively taking away a lane of traffic by ending free two-person carpools in the HOV lane and the state's continuing indifferent response to the resulting traffic jams and gridlock of Biblical proportions has only given voters solid proof of what the powers-that-be have in store after they get their grubby little hands on the peoples' very hard-earned extra tax dollars.

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snellvillemike 3 years ago

"The voting citizenry couldn't be more agitated than it is right now. That doesn't bode well for the TSPLOST initiative that must be passed if Atlanta has any hope of improving traffic flow."

"Georgia DOT and other state officials need to regroup and come up with a way to improve the commutes or abandon the program."

You are absolutely correct. Tax Gwinnett to help Atlanta. And yes, abandon the double taxation of roadways.

Boycott the HOT and vote NO to the TSPLOST.

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g_netter 3 years ago

I will vote no on ANY SPLOST while the HOT lane exists.

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jwcush 3 years ago

I will forever vote no on SPLOST type taxes. We need to start living within our means. People need to take responsibility for the unintended consequences of their decisions. Decisions like where to buy or rent a house need to be well thought out. Most people make those decisions too casually. Many make how much house can I get for my money as the prime decision point. They forget about time and cost of commute - now and in the future. I do not want local, state or federal government telling me hoe to live my life or spend my money. I am OK with the HOT lanes except for the fact that they are projected to run at a loss and thus be subsidized by the taxpayer anyway. Price the lanes to be a break even and if they can't be then get rid of them.

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kevin 2 years, 5 months ago

they wasted our T-Splost funds for the HOT lanes. Now they want us to make the mistakes by voting for another 1 cent sales tax for 10+yrs just to spread out the # of cars on the road. This is not going to solve any traffic issues.

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kevin 2 years, 5 months ago

10 reason for voting NO to the 1% Transportation fiasco spending wish list.

1) The estimated revenues $8.5 billion (10 -yrs) 2) Project estimates $16 billion (seems to be a shortfall) 3) Which projects will be eliminated if not enough funding? 4) If not enough funding, politicians will start promoting an extension of this tax for 10 more yrs) 5) Politicians will blame the voters if these projects do not solve the congestion problems, since they had no vote in this matter. They passed the buck to us. 6) 25% of the collected money is discretionary. meaning it can be spent on things other than on improving/adding roads. 7) The TIA law is nothing more than another "stimulas" package that won't work. Nothing is shovel-ready on this list. 8) Will hurt the poor, seniors, and unemployed people. 9) Will benefit developers, whose projects include buildings exempt from property taxes. 10)How are we going to pay to maintain the additional roads and rails?

Transportation projects should be paid for like toll roads; by the people that use them. You do this by increasing the gasoline tax, not a general sales tax. The Transportation Investment Act (TIA)law also does not assure the voters that the collected funds cannot be diverted to something else, like they already do with our gasoline tax. By the way, some say our gas tax is low. Maybe it is too low. However, you also have to add to the gas tax the sales tax, which brings the total to 11th place in the nation for Georgia's gas taxes. Politicians always have a way to slant the truth when it suits them. You will find very little money going for rails and buses. This is where most should be going to. How about including a monorail from north to south?

Follow the link above and do your research. Do not due what our Congress does, vote for the bill and then read it and weep.

It would be cheaper if each county funded helicopters to downtown Atlanta, than chopping down more trees. This whole Act is mainly about saving downtown Atlanta. Who wants to go there and have their car towed, ticketed, or broken into?

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