$12M to widen US 41 N is more than $7.5M for a bus system

There is no public transit in Lowndes County, except for the tiny MIDS bus system (I like it, but it’s small). Meanwhile, the county proposes to spend more in a new sales tax to widen one road, $12 million dollars for Old US 41 North, than a bus system would cost, $7.5 million.

One short stretch of road vs. a three-line bus system to connect Wiregrass Tech, Five Points, Downtown, Moody, East Side, South Side, West Side, and the Mall.

Road and bridge proponents usually mutter that a bus system won’t pay back for years, if ever. And that’s right: bus systems usually operate at a loss because local governments subsidize them for the social and economic benefits they bring, such as these:

This project will provide mobility options for all travelers; improve access to employment; and help mitigate congestion and maximize the use of existing infrastructure by promoting high-occupancy travel.
Employment, safety, and less sprawl, all from a bus system.

What road and bridge proponents don’t ever mention is: how long will it take before that $12 million to widen Old US 41 North from 2 to five lanes pays back? The answer: decades, if ever. Because that road widening is to subsidize

the future plans for further development in this area both commercially and residentially
The county has already been subsidizing that sprawl:
Over the past 15 years with the installation of Lowndes County Water and Sewer in this area, nine residential subdivisions, a private K-12 school, and numerous commercial developments have developed throughout this corridor.
And it’s not clear that sprawl like that will ever pay back enough in taxes from those businesses and new residents to pay back what taxpayers now would pay to widen that road.

As the study by UGA Prof. Dorfman the county paid for several years ago says:

sprawling residential growth is a certain ticket to fiscal ruin*
* Or at least big tax increases.

Oh, and the price tag for that road widening went up 50% from June to August. It was already higher than the price tag for the bus system before the road cost went up by 50%. Who are the real beneficiaries for that?

And what are our priorities?