Mike Klein Online

TCC Debate: Deal Supports Managed Lanes; Barnes Focused on Light Rail

This week The Commerce Club hosted a debate between Republican gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal and his Democratic opponent Roy Barnes.  This article focuses on transportation.

Moderator Jeff Hullinger noted Georgia spends $100 million per year on road construction but “concerns of gridlock are mushrooming.  We’ve been talking about this for 25 years, how it gets worse and worse, yet we don’t seem to do much about it.  MARTA is certainly now in the midst of cuts where they are providing service to even fewer people. How can we change all this?”  Deal answered first, then Barnes.

NATHAN DEAL: “We have the opportunity to do something positive on the ballot this year.  I believe it is Proposition 3 that will change the accounting method from the cash to the accrual method so that (DOT) projects can begin without having all the money on hand before you start the project.  That is certainly something that needs to be done.  I hope that all of you will support that proposition.

“We also have to recognize that it is a multi-faceted issue whether it be congestion in the metropolitan area.  I think managed lanes, we are moving in that direction with managed lanes, I think it’s going to require because governments, the state of Georgia being no exception, lacks capital resources to produce projects that are in a timely fashion.  I think we have to look at more public – private partnerships in funding those major projects.

“We also have to recognize we have two different kinds of transportation issues.  One relates to the transfer of cargo.  We’re all hopeful that we’re going to have the deepening of the Savannah port and the cargo that will increase as the result of that deepening and the larger vessels that coming in there in the 2014 – 2015 time-frame.  It’s going to create a burden on how do we transport (incoming ship cargo) across our state.

“We have very poor east – west connectivity here.  We can do it below Atlanta a lot easier than we can do anything north of Atlanta.  Having that connectivity to make sure that those transfer trucks don’t already add to the 100,000 we have on our interstate system around Atlanta is a critical thing.  I believe that we can connect into our corridors on the western side, Highway 27, a four-lane corridor we already have and, of course, the expansion and four laning of Highway 17 on the eastern side of our state.

“With regard to the metro area, short line rapid rail is certainly something that has to be considered.  Then once you become entrenched in rapid rail and other mass transit measures then you can begin to expand it out into outlying areas.  Here again, it is a combination of a lot of different things.”

ROY BARNES: “(When I was governor) We planned a northwest rail line that was going from the Cobb – Cherokee line.  It was going to be elevated over 75.  There was going to be a hub at Galleria, then come on down.  It was going to split over to Woodruff Arts Center and it was going to terminate where MARTA would come up to meet it at Atlantic Station.  The state bought a parcel of land in there so it could be done.  That would be the exercise of an elevated light rail system that would go up 85.  Of course, that got canceled after I left.  They didn’t even draw the federal money down that was available to them.

“If you don’t do this you’re not going to be prosperous.  Would you come here?  Most of the jobs in the Atlanta region are between 75 and 85 on the 285 corridor across on the north side.  You look at the concentration of jobs, that’s where they are.  Would you locate there right now where you don’t know whether your employees will get there or not depending on whether there was a wreck on 285 or 75?

“There has been this great fear that we have of mass transit.  We have to build mass transit all the way through the Atlanta region.  Now next year we have this sales tax vote on that region.  When I was governor I wanted to do the 75 line so that people could see, touch, ride and see what they were getting and then call the referendum.

“Now we don’t have time for that.  We have to pass that referendum and then we have to unclog some roads and bridges that we have in that same area …. 285 and 20 … 400 and more flyaways to Gwinnett and the spaghetti junction and the mass transit system is what you have to do to free that up.

“Now statewide, the two routes that we ought to concentrate on are 17 on the east and 27 on the west.  Yes, we do need some east – west connectivity.  I tried to do that, didn’t go over too well but you do have to have some east – west connectivity or you’re not going to be able to move a lot of goods and products from the ports and from other parts of the state without that.

“I think you consider a west bypass this time, somewhere north in Bartow County hook on 75, come through Paulding, across (Interstate) 20, down through Coweta, hook into 85, then run a connector over to 75 to do that.”

Mike Klein writes about Georgia policy issues as Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

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October 1, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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