Powder Springs sounds off on TSPLOST
by Jon Gillooly
April 24, 2012 12:57 AM | 3750 views | 10 10 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
POWDER SPRINGS — After listening to a panel of enthusiasts talk about the July 31 transportation referendum at a town hall meeting on Monday, former Powder Springs City Councilman Tom Bevirt tried to even the scales.

Pointing to cheerleaders like Michael Paris, who is spearheading the Metro Atlanta Voter Education Network, a group spending millions to “educate” voters about the referendum, Bevirt said, “I’m trying to be even-handed with this, but when I see five people up here selling the same thing, I feel that I gotta be able to come up and give you the other side of the story.”

A crowd of about 30 turned out for Monday’s town hall, which was hosted by state Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) at the Ron Anderson Recreation Center by Tapp Middle School.

“Who do you think is making up all this stuff?” Bevirt asked. “It’s not the county. Who’s putting on those television commercials and radio commercials? Well, the people who are in favor of this have a kitty of at least $6 million to ‘inform’ you. That’s kind of a polite word. So you’ve got to be a little more skeptical of this.”

Another member in the audience, Craig Kootsillas, referenced an article published this week in The Saporta Report, detailing how the federal government says there are no guarantees of federal money if the referendum is approved, even though federal funds are being counted on to pay for 12 percent of the total $7.1 billion cost of the projects.

Kootsillas asked the panel what would happen if such federal funding doesn’t materialize.

“Then they’ll have to figure out if they can rescope the project within the project definition in order to accomplish it,” said Faye DiMassimo, director of the Cobb Department of Transportation.

Lisa Cupid of Austell, who intends to challenge Commissioner Woody Thompson in the July 31 Democratic primary, said she is concerned that the regional referendum might jeopardize future local SPLOSTs.

“People will be less supportive to be taxed twice for transportation,” Cupid said.

Cupid said she’s still deciding how she will vote on the referendum.

“With the different counties working together, it certainly makes a strong statement that we’re looking at transportation as a region, but the rub is, as you continue to have local needs, how can we continue to have continuing support for that, because that regional list is not going to cover all the current needs, let alone all the needs that come up,” she said.

Pat Abbott of east Cobb, who is retired from the Air Force, asked about the $689 million earmark for “enhanced transit service,” the largest expenditure in Cobb’s list.

DiMassimo said that $689 million would be spent on bus rapid transit from Acworth to Midtown. Moreover, next month the county will reveal preliminary information garnered from its Alternatives Analysis study, which has been examining the best way to offer transportation relief in that corridor.

The preliminary information, DiMassimo said, “will reduce the number of alternatives and reduce the number of modes that we are considering, reduce the number of alignments … to a few.”

By modes she means possibly light rail, bus rapid transit or express bus service. By alignments she means whether to have the route along Interstate 75 or Cobb Parkway.

The May update will show what options have been eliminated for the Acworth to Midtown corridor and reveal what options need further study for a final recommendation to be revealed in September, she said.

Abbott said he intends to vote in favor of the tax.

“If we don’t pass it now, I think it’s going to be several years before they come up with another plan, and things are going to get worse,” he said. “And I think it’s going to improve the economy. You need the improvements to get people to work so they can live one place and be able to go to another job.”

Others in attendance Monday included state Sen. Doug Stoner (D-Smyrna), James Hudgins with Arcadis and Jim Croy of Croy Engineering of Marietta.

Wilkerson said after the meeting that he was still undecided on how to vote.

“I want to understand more about the bus rapid transit,” Wilkerson said. “It’s a lot of money, it’s the biggest project and it could have potentially the biggest impact — positively or negatively — on the area.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
This is John Galt
April 25, 2012
Here, let me leave all of you fine people in Cobb County something to ponder.

I live in your mirrored community in Gwinnett County. Just take a long walk over to our neck of the woods and watch the heated discussion of the HOT Lanes. If you are unfamiliar, this is a tax (or toll if you will) for the privilege of driving in a lane on the interstate that you have already paid for with your tax dollars. Don't be fooled into thinking that anything other than if federal money is at stake, somewhere along the line you will have to sell your soul to get it. The reason I point this out is that unless you act now, you will be subject to the same garbage facilitated by the SRTA (State Road & Toll Authority) that we have to live with and can't seem to get anyone who will listen. Please, I deplore you to learn from our mistakes and vote this boondoggle down. All the advertisement to suggest that this is a good thing is all orchestrated by those that have something, either directly or indirectly, to gain.
April 25, 2012
@ This is John Galt

I agree with your analysis of the Lexus lanes, but I think you would get a little more cooperation fromm those of us in Cobb if you "implore" us to learn from your mistakes instead of "deploring" us.
April 25, 2012
The "Hot Lanes" in Gwinnett are not the same as the managed lane project slated for the Northwest Corridor. I hope you were not trying to make that suggestion.
Thomas J. Palmer
April 30, 2012
@John Galt: You may want to "implore" the voters rather than "deplore". Just a suggestion.
April 24, 2012
To Richard Steiner,

The East West Connector & the Windy Mac Connector have brought much more traffic congestion right smack through Smyrna! This has not in the LEAST helped ease traffic congestion.

The glut of vehicles now must find its way through our neighborhoods, only to back up at interstate ramps along I-75/I-285.

I'm w/ URKidding!

This is a slush fund & in 10 years , I will bet ya' nothing will change, no projects that make any diff will be done. The contractors bank accounts will grow!

South Cobb Voter
April 24, 2012
I have looked at both the Regional Project list as well as the local 15% project list Cobb County and the cities have produced and there multiple reasons to vote YES for this. It does address our needs and will improve transportation in our county and region. I am voting YES.
April 25, 2012
@ South Cobb Voter

I think you must be looking at a different project list than the one that's proposed.

Either that or you don't understand the concept of regional transportation solutions.

Unfortunately, I don't think you are the only uninformed voter out there who is being bamboozledand misinformed by MAVEN and their slick propaganda campaign.

You sre the same kind of gullible voter that put Obama in the White House.
April 24, 2012
The TIA Project list is a nonstarter.

It is NOT a solution or even the beginnings of a solution to our regional transportation issues.

It is a collection of uncoordinated, unconnected local transportation projects that were doled out to various jurisdictions to garner support for the referendum.

This is a gigantic taxpayer scam to create a $7 Billion slush fund for the politicians, consultants and developers to tap into.

Nothing more.

While the collusion of the Cobb County government is disheartening, it isn't very surprising.

The Cumberland CID and the Cobb Chamber are calling the shots on this for Cobb County and Tim Lee is their ever obedient messenger boy.

It is no wonder that DiMassimo, Lee and their consultant cronies are lobbying hard for this.

However it is painfully obvious it is not for the benefit of Cobb County or the Atlanta Region, but for their own selfish ambitions and enrichment.
mk-cement business
April 24, 2012
Man, this is such a mafia style strong arm. Look at the players-

DiMasimo is the queen puppet, Tim Lee is the puppeteer. Tim Lee takes his orders from the Cobb CID & the Chamber. The engine is the ARC.

The ARC is directing growth out Gwinnett , I-85,I-20 corridor.

Senator Doug Stoner is one shady character. I wish someone could tell me ONE good thing he's accomplished for the whole south Cobb district, which he serves. He seems to partner w/ whoever it takes to pull strings, to bring a huge slush fund into the small towns, just to be gobbled up by contractors, such as Croy Engineering. Croy Engineering has had 17 million of the 43 million Smyrna Splost money written to them in checks,.. 17 MILLION--

...and what has Smyrna gotten to ease traffic? Medians & sidewalks! Thats where the largest profit is,.. medians, sidewalks and STUDIES!

Cobb County is too corupt, to ever solve its traffic woes!
Richard Steiner
April 24, 2012
What has Smyrna gotten to ease traffic? In my local area along the Smyrna/Mableton border, we've seen a widening of the East/West Connector, and a nice improvement including an extra turn lane to Cooper Lake Road southbound where it intersects with the E/W Connector.

Both of those projects have been very helpful in easing local traffic.

Also... Are you completely blowing off the Macland/Windy Hill Connector, not a small project?
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