Creative Loafing votes Yes on T-SPLOST

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I’ve been waiting for the Creative Loafing editorial board to take a Yes or No stance on the T-SPLOST vote for a transportation tax in the Atlanta region. Today they published their opinion: Yes. Read it here:

Atlanta transit: Envisioning our future CL’s stance on the T-SPLOST, or how to kill a beast that won’t die

I’ve mentioned briefly in comments here and elsewhere that I’ve reluctantly decided to vote Yes. I have a lot of misgivings about this tax and whether or not the road projects on it promote the sprawling, inefficient land use of the last few decades that has caused so much environmental damage.

In the end, I got tired of the stress that larger view was causing me and decided to take a more narrow view. I looked at what the tax does for me and my immediate neighborhood and I liked what I saw, particularly the pedestrian & cycling improvements on the list of projects from the tax’s allowance of 15% for local spending.

Still, I won’t be crying if the tax doesn’t pass, because I see a silver lining: a lack of a fix for the region’s traffic might make people think twice about living 20 miles from their job in a car-dependent area.

Atlanta traffic photo by Instagram user cj_mainor

Should Atlanta rethink traffic congestion?

Atlanta traffic

An Atlantic Cities writer takes a look at numbers on traffic congestion and economic output in US regions and finds that congestion (vehicle delay) does not have a negative effect on urban economies. The article points out that cities with vibrant economies always experience traffic congestion. One follows the other.

The writer goes on to say this:

"…when the streets become congested and driving inconvenient, people move to more accessible areas, rebuild at higher densities, travel shorter distances, and shift travel modes."

This is a significant concept to ponder as we approach the vote on the T-SPLOST that, in large part, makes car commuting in the region easier. If we alleviate congestion for cars, are Atlanta’s suburbanites losing the drive to live closer to work, allow higher densities and try alternative transportation modes?

I waffle on my feelings on the T-SPLOST pretty much daily. There are many things to like about it, such as funding for MARTA and new transit lines intown. But I worry about the potential for the road-funding projects to give the overall region fewer reasons to buy into a more sustainable urban form than the sprawling, car-dependent one.

Another great quote from the article:

"…automobile congestion, vehicle delay…are not measures of system efficiency. Nor are they measures of economic vitality. They are nothing more or less than measures of how convenient it is to drive an automobile."

Atlanta Sprawl

Atlanta traffic photo by Fantinesview | Atlanta sprawl photo by jschoenwald

Major southeastern metro votes to fund new rail transit with tax
The Transport Politic reports that Durham County, North Carolina voters have approved a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to transit. Significantly, this has happened one year before the vote on Atlanta’s Transportation Investment Act.
A quote from the post:

…two light rail lines sharing parts of the same corridor will run from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to Durham and from suburban Cary to northeast Raleigh, via that city’s downtown…the two light rail lines will have a total of 38 stations  along 35 miles of service, meaning most people along the route will be  within walking distance of a stop.

Obviously, the physical makeup of the metro, the political atmosphere, commuting patterns and the economic landscape of the NC Triangle are all different than what we have in Metro Atlanta. But I can’t help but think that a nearby southeastern metro’s investment in significant alternative-transportation infrastructure might have a bearing on voter opinion of the 2012 referendum in Atlanta.
Will voters allow Atlanta to sit idle while regional economic competitors like Charlotte and the Triangle move forward with rail-transit developments?

Major southeastern metro votes to fund new rail transit with tax

The Transport Politic reports that Durham County, North Carolina voters have approved a half-cent sales tax increase dedicated to transit. Significantly, this has happened one year before the vote on Atlanta’s Transportation Investment Act.

A quote from the post:

…two light rail lines sharing parts of the same corridor will run from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to Durham and from suburban Cary to northeast Raleigh, via that city’s downtown…the two light rail lines will have a total of 38 stations along 35 miles of service, meaning most people along the route will be within walking distance of a stop.

Obviously, the physical makeup of the metro, the political atmosphere, commuting patterns and the economic landscape of the NC Triangle are all different than what we have in Metro Atlanta. But I can’t help but think that a nearby southeastern metro’s investment in significant alternative-transportation infrastructure might have a bearing on voter opinion of the 2012 referendum in Atlanta.

Will voters allow Atlanta to sit idle while regional economic competitors like Charlotte and the Triangle move forward with rail-transit developments?

Could 2012 gas prices sway ATL transportation vote?

gas sign

This could prove to be an interesting development during a year when metro Atlantans will be voting on a game-changing tax that funds roads and transit equally.

The L.A. Times reports that 2012 could bring record-high gas prices to US drivers.

Fuel price specialist Bob van der Valk said that oil prices, which have been creeping back toward $100 a barrel, eventually will boost gasoline costs.

"We started high on gasoline prices this year and we stayed high, and we are going to go higher next year," Van der Valk said. "We could be as high as $4.50 a gallon in California by Easter. The rest of the country will be above $4 a gallon by then."

"Localize Your Life" image from Flickr user Ted Ullrich

Mayor struggles to comprehend obvious MARTA/Beltline connections
(CORRECTION BELOW)
Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos recently claimed, in print, that one  of the main reasons Atlanta Beltline transit shouldn’t be funded  regionally is that it doesn’t connect with MARTA stations.
She wrote this:

"A close examination of the Beltline website map reveals an astounding  fact: Not a single segment of the proposed Beltline intersects the MARTA  system at MARTA stations."

AJC Politfact points out her error.  The northeast section of the Beltline transit route does, in fact,  connect with two MARTA train stations — Lindbergh and  Reynoldstown/Inman Park. Strangely, when confronted  about her error, Galambos only admits to being wrong in regard to the  Lindbergh station (“”That one is on the map,” she said of Lindbergh.”).
So — after first detecting no MARTA connections on the Beltline map, she was somehow able to re-check the map and see only one MARTA  connection and not the two that clearly exist. My question: how does a person with such poor map reading skills get put on a regional transportation roundtable?
CORRECTION:
The all-knowing CCTgirl has kindly pointed out that Galambos does not actually sit on the roundtable. To my embarrassment, while criticizing a Mayor for being unable to read a map, I prove myself to be unable to read a roundtable list.
Let’s change that final sentence to: “how does a person with such poor map reading skills get elected Mayor?”
Beltline image from Transit Implementation Strategy - Transportation Investment Act Candidate Segments

Mayor struggles to comprehend obvious MARTA/Beltline connections

(CORRECTION BELOW)

Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos recently claimed, in print, that one of the main reasons Atlanta Beltline transit shouldn’t be funded regionally is that it doesn’t connect with MARTA stations.

She wrote this:

"A close examination of the Beltline website map reveals an astounding fact: Not a single segment of the proposed Beltline intersects the MARTA system at MARTA stations."

AJC Politfact points out her error. The northeast section of the Beltline transit route does, in fact, connect with two MARTA train stations — Lindbergh and Reynoldstown/Inman Park. Strangely, when confronted about her error, Galambos only admits to being wrong in regard to the Lindbergh station (“”That one is on the map,” she said of Lindbergh.”).

So — after first detecting no MARTA connections on the Beltline map, she was somehow able to re-check the map and see only one MARTA connection and not the two that clearly exist. My question: how does a person with such poor map reading skills get put on a regional transportation roundtable?

CORRECTION:

The all-knowing CCTgirl has kindly pointed out that Galambos does not actually sit on the roundtable. To my embarrassment, while criticizing a Mayor for being unable to read a map, I prove myself to be unable to read a roundtable list.

Let’s change that final sentence to: “how does a person with such poor map reading skills get elected Mayor?”

Beltline image from Transit Implementation Strategy - Transportation Investment Act Candidate Segments