CID loves transit in Charlotte, N.C.
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
June 01, 2012 12:40 AM | 3107 views | 39 39 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CUMBERLAND — Members of the Cumberland Community Improvement District raved about their recent tour of the transit system in Charlotte, N.C., during Thursday’s board meeting.

Malaika Rivers, the CID’s executive director, said she and other county officials visited Charlotte on May 11 to tour its transit hub, which connects a light rail line with a bus system.

CID board member Peter Kasian, a director with the Tishman Speyer real estate management firm, was also in attendance.

“They are very formidable competition to us,” Kasian said of Charlotte. “That’s a very cool little place, and I think that from a transportation standpoint they definitely have a lead on us because they are doing an integrated approach, and it’s just working so well.”

Rivers also praised Charlotte’s transportation system.

“The eight of us went and took a look at how Charlotte is utilizing high-capacity transit light rail and express lane corridors and came away very impressed with the whole situation,” Rivers said.

Others who attended included county manager David Hankerson, Cobb transportation director Faye DiMassimo, Cobb Chamber of Commerce CEO David Connell, Chamber Chief Operating Officer Demming Bass and two members of the Town Center Area CID, she said.

Kasian said they spoke with the head of Charlotte’s Chamber of Commerce, who talked about “what a competitive advantage they have to Atlanta when competing for business like Chiquita.”

“They pounded away at our transportation system versus Charlotte’s transportation system,” Kasian said.

The Cumberland CID has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on television commercials about the upcoming July 31 transportation referendum.

In other business, the board approved a $60,472 request from Rivers to contract with Georgia Tech’s research division to study the CID.

“It will give us a very good insight into how the community has trended and what the impacts of the CID has been, and all of this goes to inform our information for our investors, for our government funders, and for our variety of different stakeholders so that we can shape our message accordingly,” Rivers said.

An economic study done three years ago revealed that Cumberland made up 5.1 percent of the state’s total economy, she said.

“That’s a very, very impactful number, and it’s one that I use when talking to government funders all the time,” she said.

CID Chairman Tad Leithead said the board also hired a program manager, Jacobs Engineering, to manage its current projects through the end of the year for an amount not to exceed $301,500. In the past, the CID has not had a program manager since it’s relied on the county government, Leithead said.

“In the past, we’ve paid for the front-end design, we’ve participated in the right-of-way acquisition, but then eventually we leveraged our funds against county, state and federal dollars. So Kennedy Interchange, for instance, we put in $7 million, even though it was a $100 million project,” Leithead said. “Over two or three years with some of these smaller projects — the interchange improvements, the turning lanes, the beatification projects, there really isn’t anyone to leverage those funds against, so we’ve decided that those are good projects for our district, and we’re paying for them on a dollar-for-dollar basis, so that requires that we actually have a manager who looks out for our interests in those projects.”

The CID board also voted to change its landscape maintenance firm. The CID formerly contracted with Valleycrest for a 12-month period for $216,815. It will now contract with Russell Landscape from June 1 to Dec. 31, 2012 for $155,966, Rivers said.
Comments
(39)
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Tex G
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June 04, 2012
Well they need to ask the people of Charlotte about this and not some paid off stooges.

Charlotteans hate the system and want it stopped cold. This is a joke. No TSPLOST!
Third Floot
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June 03, 2012
To the last Georgia Democrate, please let us know your transportation credentials that you seem to suggest with your articles. Or are you just another Ron Sifen, a citizen with no background in transportation at? Sifen is a phone operator; he has no transportation planning, design or operating experiance at all but is quick to call himself an expert. Yes, he is an expert at running his mouth.
mk-
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June 03, 2012
3rd floor,... we ALL are experts in as much as we live here, work here, drive these roads every day & understand the incompetence of the (so-called, in name only), experts.

I've seen some very good ideas coming from John Q Public. (at least they are thoughtful ideas)

Maybe these overpaid bureaucrats should start listening to the public,... they might LEARN something!!
Quatsch
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June 03, 2012
Nice ad hominem, Third Floot.

How about you refute Sifen and LGD with a coherent argument first, then site YOUR transport credentials.

Then you might have a tiny bit of credibility. Until then, you are nothing but another loud mouth looking for a pot full of tax money stolen from productive people for you to live off of. What a shame.
Tex G
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June 04, 2012
Transportation planners are morons. Thats a fact. See this city and its roads for proof. Idiot.
TIC
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June 04, 2012
Yet another less than brilliant comment by Third Floor.

Regardless of Ron's background he is certainly more informed about transportation issues and makes more sense that Fake DiMassimo or the other nimrods at Cobb DOT.

Transportation planning is more than just planning and implementing projects based on the potential availability of federal and/or state funding.

It should actually have something to do with the real transportation needs of the community.

A small dose of common sense might also help.

mk-the difference
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June 02, 2012
While Fulton/Dunwoody are doing something about addressing trsffic problems w/ the diverging diamond on Ashford Dunwoody/285.....

While Fulton/Sandy Springs is building new bridge over 285/Roswell Road,...

the (girls) of Cobb are doing lunch in Charlotte!

Cobb Counties future is looking bleek!!
Pat H
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June 02, 2012
All you need to do is go to the MARTA 5 points station and ride the line to the West End if you want an idea of how rail works.
Kennesaw Voter
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June 01, 2012
If the rail line from downtown Atlanta to Cumberland Mall is so great and needed...why isn't the lion's share coming from Fulton county and Atlanta's share of the TSPLOST? Oh, I forgot, Kaseem Reed and the Cumberland CID yanked their stooge Tim Lee in line and got Cobb county to fund the boondoggle.
Be Careful
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June 01, 2012
So they go visit NC and come back with wonderful stories about how great their transit system is.

They do NOT address it's cost overruns.

They do NOT provide ANY stats as to evidence of reduced traffic or improved development.

All they can say is that the bus/train hub station is really neat.

Well, my friends, that doesn't cut it.

Please vote no on this pending disaster.

I don't want to have to move.
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
The concept of needing huge and continuous tax increases to pay for transit (rail or bus) is a red herring.

The only reason that a tax increase would be needed to pay for transit is if the line is poorly-conceptualized and/or poorly-placed.

If a transit line cannot be self-supporting then it does not need to be built or implemented.

Transit can and should NEVER be paid for through tax increases as there are too many other ways to pay for well-placed and well thought-out transit lines WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.

The best and only way to pay for transit is with user fees (in the form of fares high enough to actually cover the cost of operating and maintaining the transit service), fees on traffic fines, sin taxes on adult entertainment, alcohol and tobacco, Tax Increment Financing (property tax revenues from future development that pops up along transit lines) and public-private partnerships like the kind that the state was originally going to use in which a private partner was going to finance up to half of the cost of constructing, operating and maintaining the I-75/I-575 HOT Lanes.

With so many other ways to finance transit and new expressway lanes other than raising taxes, which provides very limited revenues for improvements, anyway, TAX INCREASES TO FINANCE TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENTS ARE ALMOST COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY!!!!!
TCW (TheCobbWay)
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June 01, 2012
Light rail, the Edsel of 2000's.
anonymous
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June 01, 2012
@ tcw(thecobbway)

I disagree.

Light rail is the public housing of the 2000's.

Just like taxpayer subsidized housing the only people that ever made any profit were the unscroupulous developers that built it and the charlatans that mismanaged and milked it.

Public housing was a failure and this will be a failure as well.

Just ask the taxpayers in Charlotte that are having this albatross hung around their necks.

TCW(TheCobbWay)
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June 04, 2012
@ anonymous

I will concede that your analogy is more accurate.

Although both were abject failures the Ford company probably didn't make any money off of the Edsel.

And at least they had enough sense to see that the Edsel was in fact a failure and stopped making it almost immediately.

That also happened with public housing, but it took 70 or 80 years for our goverment bureacrats to recognize it's failure and stop the social engineering madness.

Hopefully it won't take as long to learn the same expensive lesson about light rail.
Jeff A. Taylor
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June 01, 2012
I lived in Charlotte from 2003 until last year.

Every single thing CID members saw and heard was a lie. Worse, I suspect CID insiders know this, but figure the propaganda value of citing CLT is too great to ignore.

Besides, CLT HAD TO SUBSIDIZE tiny Chiquita to get it to move from Cincy. In other words, a $9.5 billion transit plan (up from $1b. when CLT voters approved it in 1998) WAS NOT ENOUGH. How in the world does that argue for dedicated taxes for light rail?

Were CID flunkies told that CLT bus service had to be cut back and fares raised in order to keep CLT's light rail plans alive? That LTR HAS NOT sparked the re-development boom that was expected? (In fact the county bought up an abandoned Sonny's BBQ store at the line's terminus and turned it into a liquor store to have SOMETHING outside the station. Bet CID geniuses didn't tour that.) That $50-70m. in non-transit tax infrastructure spending went into the $60m. PER MILE line? That property tax dollars from the city's General Fund will be spent to complete the system (contrary to repeated promises to taxpayers)? [BTW, Charlotte city officials want a 8% property tax hike this year.]

And most of all -- that CLT's traffic congestion has seen ZERO impact from the light rail line?

It is just sickening to watch the same lies spread over and over again. If Cobb wants to commit slo-mo suicide, then follow the lead of Charlotte, aka Detroit-on-the-Catawba.
Rail Rider
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June 01, 2012
If there is one improvement that would have the largest impact on the area, it would be rail service. Not only would commuters benefit from the rail option ride to work, but many travelers headed to the worlds busiest airport could arrive without worrying about parking. Falcons, Braves and Hawks games, Cumberland Mall, Lenox Mall and all points and attractions in between could be optionally accessed via rail service.

To the point that Cobb County is not Charlotte, NC...you are correct. However, it is far more and beyond a suburban bedroom community. Cobb is home and headquarters to some of the worlds largest corporations (Home Depot, Coca Cola Enterprises and Genuine Parts). Cobb County is Metro Atlanta.

The absence of an advanced transportation network that incorporates rail and connects our community with those surrounding it will only suppress our growth.
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
I agree that rail transit could have a positive impact, IF DONE CORRECTLY.

The proposal to run light rail on US Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway is definitely NOT an example of transit that would be done correctly as the density of development and population simply does not exist to make rail transit sustainable along Cobb Parkway making the line a purely developmental line that would need very heavy public tax subsidies just to attempt to survive over a medium time frame.

The best only corridor where rail transit would not only be sustainable, but also highly-successful, is on the CSX-Western & Atlantic rail right-of-way that runs through historic downtowns in Vinings, Smyrna, Marietta, Kennesaw and Acworth (and Cartersville, Adairsville, Calhoun, Dalton, Ringgold, Chattanooga Airport and Downtown Chattanooga for commuter rail) that have the both the density of walkable, transit-friendly development and high population density to sustain a rail transit line over the long-term WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.
100% Cost Over-run
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June 01, 2012
Charlotte ran construction deficits double their Light Rail budget.

From the Charlotte Business Journal, Friday Sept 2, 2011

Quote Charlotte's first light rail line was plagued by cost overruns that pushed the total price to nearly $463 million - double original estimates when it opened four years ago. And the city is still working through audits and negotiations over at least $1.2 million in unresolved billings on its first rail transit venture. Unquote.

At that rate, Cobb's train project would cost nearly one and a half BILLION dollars, and taxpayers would be on the hook for the difference.

Vote NO on July 31st. Take the time to understand the costs before you approve this ! Plan B will be a lot clearer in two years.
SG68
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June 01, 2012
Their only concern is what benefit is going to accrue to their property and their investments. To heck with everybody else.

As long as the TSPLOST taxes are subsidizing the value of their property and their developments they could care less how much it costs the taxpayers.

That's what this whole TSPLOST boondoggle is about. It is not a regional transportation solution.

It is about creating a huge taxpayer financed slush fund that they can tap into for their own enrichment.

Why do you think they (the CID's) contributed millions to the pro TSPLOST propaganda campaign?

It certainly wasn't to educate the voters and it certainly wasn't out of the goodness of their hearts or civic responsibility.

Charlotte and other cities that have recently been tricked into building these systems with public funding have proven that they just don't work without humoungous public subsidies.

They are financial black holes.

The same will be true here.
TIC
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June 01, 2012
“That’s a very, very impactful number, and it’s one that I use when talking to government funders all the time,” she said.

A very revealing and troubling statement.

Another group of developers who are looking to the government to provide scarce tax dollars for the enhancement of their projects and property.

Disgusting!!!

anonymous
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June 03, 2012
My exact thoughts upon reading Ms. Rivers statement.

Combined with other statements in this article it is very clear that you have a group that is hell bent and determined to ram their lies and part truths down the throats of voters to reap the rewards of a very large "voluntary" tax stream. The boldness of their mendacities is remarkable...and very consistent with the way our rino/chamber backed welfare queen class is operating these days. Something very Obamaesque about it all.

Open Your Eyes
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June 01, 2012
You are right, Cobb County is not Charlotte, N.C. According to the U.S. Census Bureau Charlotte has a population of 731,424 and the metro region of Charlotte clocks in at roughly 1,758,038. Cobb County has a population of 693,600 and is a major part of an atlanta region which clocks in at roughly 4,142,000. Cobb ranks as one of the most educated communities in the state and 12th among all counties in the United States. It is also ranked in the top 100 of the most wealthy counties in the United States. Just the Cumberland area alone, which houses Home Depot, Travel Port and The Weather Channel, just to name a few, represents 5% of the entire States economy. We are much more than a suburban bedroom community. That might have been an accurate description in the 1970s and early 1980s but not anymore.

On the Hwy. 41 conversion, how do you intend to do all of that without raising taxes?

Do you have any cost estimates on that project?
URKiddingRight?
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June 01, 2012
How many significant new privately funded developments have occured in the Cumberland area in the last decade?

That's right!!! ZERO.

So what's wrong with this picture?

The CID continues to pour multi millions of dollars into the area with nothing to show for their investment except for a few streetlights and landscaping along unused sidewalks and overgrown weed filled parcels of property that have been dormant for years.

Now they have resorted to begging for taxpayer dollars to try to artificially prop up their investment in a dying market that becomes less desireable with each and every passing day.

Just because they can't recognize a lost cause when they see one doesn't mean that the taxpayers of Cobb County and Metro Atlanta should be dragged into their money wasting folly.

Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
Open Your Eyes-

The 4.14 million number that you cite is only the population of the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission area.

The real size of the Atlanta Region is defined by the U.S. Census Bureau as a region that encompasses 28 counties throughout North Georgia and has a population of close to 5.8 million.

The Atlanta Region is defined as a 28-county region by the U.S. Census Bureau because those 28 counties are where people commute to and from and around Metro Atlanta the most.

As for converting 41 into a super-arterial without raising taxes...

Converting 41 into a super-arterial can be done without raising taxes by using bonds to fund the initial construction of the project and using the tolls that would only be on the express/through lanes to payback the bonds over a period of 20-40 years (the local surface/at-grade lanes would remain without tolls for local traffic and to provide access to the businesses that line the entirety of the route).
RUHigh!
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June 01, 2012
There has been a ton of privately funded development in and around the Cumberland CID. You must not get out much. There are several construction projects currently underway. You need to drive around and take a look.
Open Your Eyes
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June 01, 2012
@Last GA Democrat so the figure is even larger, even more reason why we are not like Charlotte, we (Cobb) are part of a much bigger, much more vibrant region. A region that is also going to grow by 3 million people in the next 10-20 years. Even more reason why we should be considering options like light rail to connect cobb business corridors.

As for the super arterial, you are willing to put the taxpayers of cobb on the hook for 20-40 years for bonds that will be paid for in tolls on hwy 41. How in the world does that make any sense at all. Especially when the state is going to build a reversable managed lane project up 75 to Acworth and 575 to holly springs that will also be tolled.

Have you not heard of the NW Corridor Managed lanes project.

Just for kicks, how much bonded indebtedness do you think it would take to build that 41 Super Arterial?
URKiddingRight?
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June 01, 2012
@ RUHigh

Name one significant new private development that has broken ground in the last ten years IN the boundaries CID and I will shut up.

Not garden apartments. or a restaurant or two at the Mall, or a publicly funded facility or putting tenants in empty existing buildings, or a facelift of an old shopping center, but legitimate new development like you see at Perimeter or SugarLoaf or up the Ga. 400 corridor.

Name one!!!
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
Open Your Eyes-

The tolls on the I-75/575 reversible managed lanes are not setup to pay for the cost of constructing the road (as the state is using an entire years road building budget to build the lanes).

The tolls on the I-75/575 HOT lanes project are only setup to keep the traffic on the road flowing at a minimum of 45 miles-per-hour, meaning that the more traffic is in the lanes and on the road, the higher the tolls are raised to keep heavy traffic out of the lanes at rush hour.

The 41 super-arterial would be built specifically to handle heavy rush hour traffic, taking local traffic and heavy through truck traffic off of I-75 between I-285 and Cartersville by giving through car and truck traffic a western-alternative to I-75 as the tolled express lanes will be built to Interstate standards.

The very heavy amount of truck traffic and very heavy amount of through traffic (vacationers to and from Florida, etc) that uses the West Wall of I-285 is more than enough to pay the tolls that would help pay the costs of the initial construction and the costs of continuing operations and maintenance of the road over time.
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
Open Your Eyes-

"Just for kicks, how much bonded indebtedness do you think it would take to build that 41 Super Arterial?"

The same amount of bonded indebtness as it will cost to build a light rail line on Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway, upwards of one billion dollars.

Rather it is light rail, commuter rail, a super-arterial on Hwy 41 or managed lanes on I-75, after nearly two decades of total neglect and inaction on transportation issues (a time during which transportation improvements could have been made much more cheaply than today) whatever infrastructure is built in the Northwest Corridor is going to cost in the neighborhood of $1 Billion at this point.

The managed lanes on I-75 & I-575 are going to cost at least $1.2 BILLION and the proposed light rail is going to cost at least $900 million just for construction when all is said and done, figures that don't even include the costs of ongoing operations and maintenance over the long-term.

The only difference between my suggestion of paying for transportation projects with user fees and paying for transportation projects with tax increases is that the user fees (in the form of tolls and higher fares) payoff the bonds over time, while everyone (even the people who don't use the new transportation infrastructure) pays on the bonds as their taxes go up to pay for it.
RUHigh?
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June 01, 2012
@URKiddingRight? There is a six-story Hyatt hotel currently under construction next to the One Overton Park building. It is being built by Evergreen Construction, which also calls the Cumberland Galleria area home to their headquarters.

URKiddingRight?
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June 04, 2012
@ RUHigh?

That's exactly ONE, not a TON of private developments as you previously and falsely claimed in your earlier post.

And in reality it is a Summerfield Suites which is a budget business traveler facility.

Not exactly a Hyatt Regency.

So that makes two parcels in the 34 acre Overton Park that have been developed in the last 15 or so years.

Not exactly the characteristics of a booming market area.

Thank you for unwittingly assisting me in making my point.

Onlycritter1968
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June 01, 2012
Mr. Democrat,

I have read your comments on this site for a number of weeks but this last one made me stop and ask a question. Are you really suggesting that US 41 - a surface street - be turned into a 12-lane freeway? How would you address the businesses that exist along the corridor? (Granted, some would do well to leave.) You are suggesting essentially two freeways side-by-side? Do you want Los Angeles in Cobb County? The "Peachtree Industrial Boulevard" model does not work. Just ask DeKalb County who lost a significant amount of tax revenue when GDOT made PIB a "super-arterial". Your idea seems a bit too impacting for my personal taste. I am not a fan of the rail project either but a 12-lane freeway - sorry, super-arterial", is not a better solution.
mk....so??
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June 01, 2012
...and I love Denvers light rail & trolleys.

The Lodo district, 16th street mall, the parks and gardens, the art & murals, the smart, laid back people.

There are lots of other areas WAY AHEAD of Cobb & Atlanta.

The CID is working on a 'beautification' project at the 285 ramp exit on Cobb Parkway at Spring Road. WHY hasn't the DOT partnered w/ CID to address the BACKUP that occurs EVERY day there w/ traffic trying to scrunch into 2 left turn lanes, while blocking noth bound Cobb Parkway traffic??

Faye & Malika SHOULD have toured THAT awful intersection,(come up w/ a PLAN to actually FIX it!!)

While the girls are at it,.. they could tour the horrible CCT bus station behind Cumberland Mall. (Its hidden away-the fences block pedestrian access & there's no park ride lot, etc)

Then if you feel adventurous,.. tour the 285 west and sit in the back up trying to get on 75 north!

There are ROAD/intersection problems that need addressing right NOW!

There is NOTHING north of 285 on Cobb Parkway inspiring or encouraging any new development. A light rail would sure look awkward along the run down Cobb Parkway. Looks like it would be a train to nowhere!!
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
"CID loves transit in Charlotte, N.C."



Cobb County is NOT Charlotte, NC!

Cobb County is a suburban bedroom community with its very own set of transportation needs which primarily consists of needing major roads widened and upgraded to better accommodate heavy traffic flows.

The Cobb Chamber, the CID, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the powers-that-be need to quit having fantasies of turning US 41/Cobb Parkway into South Boulevard on the southside of Charlotte, because, once again, Cobb County is NOT Charlotte, NC.

What US 41/Cobb Parkway needs most is to be converted into a super-arterial with 4-6 free local surface lanes and six tolled high-speed express lanes from the I-75/Northside Drive/Mount Paran Road interchange in Northwest Atlanta up through the entire length of 41 in Cobb County into Bartow County and up to Cartersville.

Converting 41 into a super-arterial is a highly-effective solution that can be implemented WITHOUT raising taxes as only those who use the express lanes would bear the ongoing and continuing cost of constructing, operating and maintaning the road in the form of tolls.
Err Uh
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June 01, 2012
Have you noticed that the same negative folks don't like toll roads either? Good luck with that suggestion catching on!
Last GA Democrat
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June 01, 2012
Err Uh-

A Hwy 41/Cobb Parkway super-arterial would only be partially-tolled as only the express/through lanes would be tolled to help the project pay for itself WITHOUT RAISING TAXES.

The local surface lanes which would run alongside the express lanes would remain untolled meaning only those who use the toll road would pay for its construction, operation and upkeep.

Taxpayers would NOT be responsible for the cost of the road.
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