Failure of funding for road study ‘an opportunity lost’
August 17, 2013 08:31 PM | 1295 views | 6 6 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DEAR EDITOR:

There seems to be a movement afoot to demonize the need for any technical studies here at Cobb County. Recently, Larry Savage spoke to the Board of Commissioners on numerous occasions on the appropriateness of the Johnson Ferry Road Study.

I’m sure that through the years there have been some excellent studies performed and some that didn’t quite hit the mark. With the economy still struggling, it is paramount that this board remain fiscally conservative. All the more reason for this Board of Commissioners to have a broad vision and actionable plan to address future Cobb County transportation needs.

In 2015, the present county transportation SPLOST comes to an end and so do the local resurfacing programs, bridge replacements and roadway improvements. Cobb DOT relies on federal, state and grant funding to pay for 90 percent of its budget. Some say that this funding should be allocated in the county’s General Fund but most citizens would not appreciate the millage rate increase that would have to accompany it.

The SPLOST projects that you see taking place today are a result of those funding partnerships. Some notable examples are the Paces Ferry/Akers Mill improvements, Floyd Road improvements and the Skip Spann Connector.

Because the County had a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), and a local funding source in place (SPLOST), we could successfully compete for other available monies.

The County is now required to update the CTP to be eligible and competitive for alternate funding opportunities and partnerships. Most importantly, in 2015 the county needs to secure a local funding mechanism so that we continue to take advantage of alternate funding opportunities.

With the failure of the regional TIA (T-SPLOST) and the narrow passage of the 2011 Cobb County SPLOST by only 79 votes, that route is not so clear. From the failure of the TIA it became apparent that the public did not like the public-input process, did not like the prioritization of projects and did not approve of the funding mechanism.

In an attempt to create a more actionable and implementable CTP, and to create a pathway for a future county roadwork funding mechanism, keeping in mind the shortfalls of the TIA, a supplemental agreement to the CTP was proposed to the Board of Commissioners. This was voted down by the Board on Tuesday.

The supplemental agreement would have addressed the need for a larger and more representative sampling of citizen input, specifically addressing which transportation projects they feel are necessary and how they would like to pay for those projects, which in turn would have required more technology, more analysis and more associated cost.

The future benefits of this study would have outweighed presents costs.

This appears to be an opportunity lost for this board to obtain a planning tool that would have allowed for smarter decisions in the future.

Helen Goreham

District 1 (northwest Cobb)

Cobb Board of Commissioners

Comments
(6)
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Tony Cain
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August 26, 2013
One question about the 90% of raod projects paid for by state and federal governments: Where do they get their money? From taxpayers, that's us. We're broke and the various governments are broke. We're living on borrowed money and so are the feds and the states and the counties and the cities. Detroit for GA will not be too far in the future.
Albert B
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August 20, 2013
More and more, we are seeing emphasis on public outreach where citizens are invited to “participate” in various forms of meetings to “help determine” the most favored approach to transportation issues. The citizens are supposedly being included to get ”input” from the public to help officials make their final decisions.

Citizens chosen at large are manipulated into accepting preset outcomes while being led to believe that the input they provided produced the outcomes. The reality is that the final outcome was already determined long before any public meetings took place. The Commissioner seems to be unaware of the practice, but many of the citizens are aware of it and do not like to see the county spending our money to have it done.

AmericanMale
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August 19, 2013
Dear Commissioner Goreham,

Please stop buying from Timmy-Faye's kool-aid stand.

Signed,

Alienated Voter
Head in sand
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August 19, 2013
Lets not study anything, just wall off the county and let everyone around us progress while we sit still and become stale. Apparently that what so many of the letter writers here want. One does not have to wonder why the rest of the nation thinks the South is back in decline led by the Cobb County crowd.
no368k
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August 18, 2013
82000 for a video - 150000 for a propaganda campaign - and what is a "beneficiary" study? - is a "beneficiary" study a study to identify all the benefits for special interests while ignoring the short term and long term costs to taxpayers?
whatitsays
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August 18, 2013
Ms. Goreham should go back and read the text of the first agenda item to see it already included all of the public outreach she writes about. Then she should read the supplemental agreement language and she will see it is not about public outreach to gather public input. Instead, it is all about public education, political speak for pushing a personal agenda; hers, Lee's and the Chambers. We should all be suspect when told they learned their lesson from the failed TIA (TSPLOST) vote. It didn't fail because they didn't spend enough money to try to convince us. It failed because it was the wrong plan. She should not lecture us about what she appears to not understand.
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