Tag Archives: mass transit

T-SPLOST losing statewide, but not in Region 11

It sounds like good news for T-SPLOST opponents, until you look at the details.

Eve Chen wrote for 11Alive yesterday, 11Alive Poll | T-SPLOST would not pass today

Among likely voters surveyed by SurveyUSA for 11Alive News, across the state, 48% said they would vote against T-SPLOST and 36% said they would vote for it if the primary were today; 16% were still undecided. The margin of error was 3.4%.

But look at the details. The big No regions are Atlanta metro and northwards (see Question 1). In our Region 11 it’s Yes 41%, No 33%, Not Certain 26% so there’s work to be done. Do we want to end up stuck with projects we don’t need after Atlanta votes down its region in a referendum that was designed to pass in Atlanta?

My favorite is question 6:

How likely is it that the state government would properly handle the funds if the transportation tax increase is passed?

In region 11, Very 17%, Somewhat 24%, Not Very 25%, Not At All 21%, Not Sure 14%. Trust problem, GDOT?

And nobody is buying the scare tactics. See Question 4, for which every region says by around 2 to 1 that traffic would stay about the same without T-SPLOST. Question 3 indicates few even think T-SPLOST would improve traffic. We also know a Plan B is possible. How about a Plan B including public transportation for south Georgia to help people get to work?


Why did old US 41 N increase from $8 M to $12 M? —John S. Quarterman @ SGRC 2011-09-19

I asked why the Old US 41 North widening project changed from $8 million on the unconstrained list to $12 million on the constrained list, an increase of $4 million or 50% when the description did not change? The answer indicates GDOT and local governments want to drive development north in the county, leaving pedestrians and bicyclists stranded yet having to pay.

Corey Hull responded:

Halfway through we received new cost estimates….

GDOT did the cost estimates, in cooperation with the local government that was responsible for that.

A state employee told me after the meeting that GDOT raised some estimates because it thought the local government, in this case the Lowndes County Commission and staff, didn’t put in enough to cover the project. I don’t know whether GDOT was figuring by Atlanta costs or not…. At least the cost didn’t go up further in the final project list; I just checked and it’s still $12 million.

Corey elaborated that some projects increased and some decreased. I asked him which ones did which. He said he’d have to go back and compare. Later he helped me produce a list of comparisons of costs of Lowndes County projects, which shows that one went down by 30% and three went up by 50% or more. One, RC11-000099 St. Augustine at Norman Intersection Improvements, went up by 131.5%.

That $12 million for widening less than 3 miles of one road is more than one item that was in the unconstrained list but cut from the constrained list: $7.5 million for a bus system, with three bus lines that would connect Wiregrass Tech, Five Points, Downtown, Moody, East Side, South Side, West Side, and the Mall. A bus system recommended by the Industrial Authority’s Community Assessment to aid in employee attendance, industry recruitment, and workforce.

You could probably even start up a substantial commuter rail system using existing freight line tracks for less than $12 million. Even though GDOT apparently only believes in roads and bridges, busses and trains are actually more cost-effective, especially for lower-income people. The same lower-income people who will be disproportionately taxed by T-SPLOST as a percentage of their income.

Instead, the description for the Old US 41 North project admits the county is driving Continue reading

T-SPLOST public meeting in Valdosta Monday morning 19 September 2011

The next T-SPLOST public meeting is tomorrow morning:
Monday, September 19, 2011; 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.; at the Valdosta City Hall Annex; 300 North Lee Street, Valdosta, Georgia; presentation will begin at 10:30 a.m.
These meetings are intended to gather public input:
After the public meetings the Roundtable will reconvene to review the public comments and adopt a final Constrained List that will be presented on the ballot to voters in 2012.
If you can’t go to the meeting, you can send in the public comment form or email Corey Hull at the SGRC.

I don’t know what you might want to comment on, but a couple of things that come to my mind are:


Lowndes County: commuter rail hub

Look at all those other railroads converging on Valdosta in that GFRR project proposal map. Valdosta is a historical rail hub for passenger traffic to Atlanta, Savannah, Jacksonville, Orlando, Thomasville, Tallahasssee, and beyond. All the tracks are still in place and still in use for freight. With some rolling stock and a few deals with the railroads, Valdosta and Lowndes County could become again a passenger rail hub with a mass transit system for local commuting to jobs and for long distance travel.

Add a bus system and local commuting becomes very practical. People could take the train to town and catch a bus to work. Many people could walk or take a bicycle to their work from the train station. This could work the other way around, too. People could live in Valdosta and work in Ray City or Lakeland or Hahira or Lake Park or Clyattville and not have to drive to get there. That would save a lot of wasted time and wasted fuel.

This kind of mass transit would attract the knowledge-based workers we supposedly want around here. Including jobs our high school and college graduates could take, so they wouldn’t have to move elsewhere.

And upgrading the railroads, building stations, building and refurbishing houses and apartments near the stations, etc., would employ a lot of construction workers; probably as many as road projects and sprawling subdivision projects, but without the sprawl.


$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: Continue reading