GREEN: On T-SPLOST, why I'm voting 'Yes'

Josh Green

Josh Green


Visit our special election section for complete coverage of the 2012 primaries, HERE.

First of all, full disclosure:

My back yard is literally the Eastside Trail segment of the -- gasp -- Atlanta Beltline.

For two years, I've joined hundreds of my neighbors in eagerly watching bulldozers, backhoes and cement trucks transform a blighted, kudzu-covered rail corridor into an alternate means of traversing a historically fractured city, a 50-foot-wide thread of hope that paradigms are shifting.

In a couple of months, the trail will open as a whole new avenue through Atlanta, a walkable, bike-friendly gateway bereft of cars. You didn't pay a dime for this progress. And, unless we donated, neither did we.

But my "Yes" vote for the T-SPLOST referendum on Tuesday will have little to do with the Beltline --and a lot to do with this region's broader future.

Nobody holds any illusions that the 157 projects on the T-SPLOST list are a traffic panacea. But embracing them will broadcast a message that we're acting to fix our mobility woes, that we understand the status quo isn't working anymore, and that we're paying forward a new level of commitment to our children, and theirs.

When I announced several years ago my plans to move to metro Atlanta, the common response went like this: "We hear it's a fun, pretty place, but no way I'd waste away in traffic like that."

That thinking has infected the business sector (according to the unfathomable statistic that the number of jobs here, despite recent spasms of life, has dropped to early 2000s levels). Face it: In the nation's eyes, metro Atlanta has devolved from a progressive, rollicking, international hotbed of opportunity into an ill-planned, impenetrable, sprawling monstrosity that is choking to death --on itself.

That snickering you hear is Dallas, Austin, Houston and Charlotte, whose boosters will use a rejected T-SPLOST referendum as ammunition against us in job recruitment. I've watched relatively young, educated friends defect to each of those cities. And other cities (Baton Rouge, Charleston, etc.) that actually had jobs.

The reticence to help fund transit projects and road expansions that course through faraway cities is understandable. I feel the same way about chipping in for the proposed $295 million Sugarloaf Parkway extension, the $100 million for Clayton County bus services or $695 million for enhanced transit services beginning in Acworth. (I don't know where Acworth is). But at the macro level, an additional penny sales tax is a small price to pay.

Studies have estimated the cost per consumer in the neighborhood of $120 per year. That breaks down to the equivalent of one medium iced coffee per week, or about of an adult movie ticket. Even in the deepest economic malaise, I'd venture to guess that most people could part with an investment of $2 and change per week.

Call me a stargazing millennial, but I believe in the transformative potential of the Beltline and its complimentary spurs of transit lines. I know plenty of people itching to leave their cars and ride the rails to work, ostensibly unclogging the surface streets that clog the exit ramps that clog the multitudinous lanes of Interstate 85 that clog the onramps of Gwinnett.

People want to live near rail projects, to invest in the nucleus of our home region, which is poisoned by a city-versus-suburbs vitriol that other cities (Chicago, Indianapolis, etc.) don't wrestle with. To say the Beltline and other intown rail projects have no regional relevance is an untruth. A vibrant, functioning core will pay regional dividends.

T-SPLOST naysayers have manipulated "Beltline" into a profanity, which is a shameful tactic indicative of this region's sorely antiquated transportation preferences. Recent "Plan B" proponents have suggested scrapping the T-SPLOST project list in favor of a new plan with a focus on carving new roads and widening existing ones. Einstein had a descriptor for such behavior.

Josh Green covers cops and courts for the Daily Post. Email him at josh.green@gwinnettdailypost.com.


ACC12_SEC13Booster 3 years, 2 months ago

I agree with Mr. Green that the Atlanta Beltline and Intown streetcars are darned good projects.

...Darned good ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT projects that have no business in an regional TRANSPORTATION referendum that was originally sold to the public early-on as being focused on reducing traffic congestion.

...A regional transportation referendum that should not even be happening in the first place as the Georgia Legislature at the very least should have funded the road projects on the state-maintained routes for which they are responsible as per the Georgia Constitution.

The Beltline and the streetcars are projects that the City of Atlanta should be paying for, NOT the taxpayers of the entire region outside of Atlanta.

To Kasim Reed and the City of Atlanta, the T-SPLOST is nothing than an elaborate fundraising scheme to get the taxpayers of the region to pay for Atlanta's economic development projects.

Nice try, Mayor Reed, in attempting to get the region to pay for Atlanta's economic development projects, but no dice.

Seeing as though the Beltline and the streetcar lines are projects that are so critical and so vitally important to the City of Atlanta's future, then the City of Atlanta ITSELF should have no problem coming up with the funds to make those critical projects happen after the T-SPLOST is defeated in the Metro Atlanta regional referendum.


Ashley 3 years, 2 months ago

The TV commercial shows a woman working downtown trying to get home in Gwinnett. There is NOTHING, I repeat not one cent out of 6 Billion dollars allocated to helping her get home faster. The commercial is a lie!


rco1847 3 years, 2 months ago

WHY I'M VOTING NO! The govenor was just cited for ethics violations and fined. Three of the five Gwinnett BOC members resigned in disgrace and there should be another. Businesses haven't learned that trust and credibility are absolutly essential to successful commerce and a functional society. I don't trust our elected officials at any level. The businesses behind this measure have a vested interest and it has little to do with us and our concerns. The EZ - Pass lanes were shoved down our throats by the Purdue - Deal Republican aristocrisy. Why not start another Lottery - Maybe it will work about as well as the current one.

VOTE NO - Not because of the merits - but because we don't trust them! ! ! !


rco1847 3 years, 2 months ago

They aren't listening to us. They are head-set on shoving it down our throats. They will lie, decieve and feather their nests and they give a dam about us. I don't trust them and neither should you !


rco1847 3 years, 2 months ago

Josh Green has been drinking the koolaid and the TEA.


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