Received this morning. -jsq
Today’s [yesterday now]
T-SPLOST Lunch and Learn was the final event in the city’s
community planning month. The event was hosted by Corey Hull who taught
the basics of the state’s 1% transportation sales tax. Hull’s
powerpoint presentation was apparently the same one he’d spoken on
several times before. As a result there was no new information. However,
the presentation was revealing to me, as I’ve not been following the
state’s T-SPLOST plans.
Hull spoke for roughly 40 minutes then opened the floor for Q&A. The
audience quickly split between enthusiastic supporters and opponents. One
supporter, a member of the Berrien County Chamber of Commerce vented her
frustration over the number of businesses that will be leaving her county
due to crumbling roads and out of touch freight centers. As she argued,
T-SPLOST would allow a smaller community like Nashville to reduce the need
for its citizens to travel to Valdosta to shop, providing a much needed
boost to the local economy. One man, a strong opponent of the tax plan,
described it as simply a “redistribution of wealth.” As he explained,
if the T-SPLOST plan were to pass following the July 2012 vote it would
only hurt local business owners. Furthermore he claimed that if local
municipalities were to take responsibility for state and federal highway
management, local governments would retain the costs in the long term.
Hull seemed reluctant to challenge either audience member. Instead he
focused on highlighting the basics of the plan. This included explaining
the basics of the 75% regional revenue pot and the 25% local discretionary
pot. The approved project list that Hull passed out included plans
for improvements to the Five Points intersection, a St. Augustine Road
overpass, and widening of Jerry Jones Road. Hull explained that this
would include both Jerry Jones and Eager Road. I asked Hull about Larry
Hanson’s statement concerning the City of Valdosta’s rule that all
road widening projects include a bike lane. Corey Hull explained that
the road improvements to Jerry Jones would include a bike lane which
would link to the lanes already on Melody Lane and Lankford Dr. This
would create a bike lane from St. Augustine Road to N. Oak Street.
Corey’s slides are on the SGRC web pages.
The problem with T-SPLOST is that it forces communities like Nashville
and Valdosta to all vote on projects that don’t have much relation, with
penalities for not voting yes.
The mayor of Nashville is the chair of the steering committee, and even he
complained that if they didn’t turn in a list of projects by a given time,
there was a penalty for that.
These penalties are reductions in state transportation funding for other
For that matter, why should the Jerry Jones bike lane be tied to the
Old US 41 N widening boondoggle
that went from $8M to $12M in two months?
No one will tell us who raised it or why,
nor who made all these other
wild swings in estimated costs.
$7.5M for a bus system
from Wiregrass Tech to southside, from Moody to the Mall, by way of VSU,
VHS, and LHS, has vanished from the list.
Anyway, regarding yesterday’s event, according to Corey Hull, the City
of Valdosta was going to video it and Corey will advertise when it will
appear on the City’s TV channel. For those of us who don’t get
that channel, there is some unknown level of possibility the videos
may be on the web.