This $1.8 million analysis by Croy Engineering will recommend what the firm believes is the best mode of mass transportation for Cobb, the best route for it and a 20-year financial plan to pay for it, as the Journal’s Geoff Folsom reported last week.
Here’s the kicker: According to Faye DiMassimo, the county DOT director, Croy was not requested to complete the study before the referendum because “It couldn’t be done by July 31.” Moreover, she said the analysis project started before the Transportation Investment Act was passed and “was never on a schedule that worked with” the TIA schedule.
So it’s an exercise in futility so far as informing Cobb voters about what an engineering firm thinks is the best mode and route for mass transit. And it’s virtually irrelevant anyway, according to Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee. He said the planned $695 million premium bus service from Acworth to the MARTA Arts Center Station “makes sense on its own.”
If the TSPLOST passes, Lee hopes the analysis will “help fine-tune what’s best for the northwest corridor” – whatever that means. So what if the much touted analysis recommends light rail instead of the premium bus service? Lee said he and his fellow commissioners will make the decision on how to proceed – which means they could decide on light rail if that is the recommended alternative, right?
Even if the Cobb commission decides against the AA recommendation, the project has to pass muster with the Atlanta Regional Commission. If federal funds are involved, as the MDJ reported, the preferred alternative would have to fit into the ARC’s Regional Transportation Plan.
Meanwhile, there’s opposition to the TSPLOST from across the political spectrum, ranging from the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club to the Tea Party of Georgia. The Sierra Club has recommended a “no” vote in all 12 state regions holding TSPLOST referendums on July 31.
Contrasting the widespread feeling in Cobb that more traffic lanes and improvements are needed, the Sierra Club “concluded that the project list is too heavily focused on sprawl-inducing road expansion and will have a negative overall impact from an environmental perspective.” The club also warns that the TIA “likely kills commuter rail for another decade” and says the “transit component has too many flaws, including vaguely defined project descriptions, under-funded capital expansions and uncertainty about long-term operational support.” No argument with that.
Further, purely local projects will soak up 15 percent of the estimated $6.1 billion raised by the tax. That’s about $1 billion for everything from sidewalks to parks and other projects that have nothing to do with relieving traffic congestion.
Solution: Vote no July 31 and start over on a real transportation improvement plan.