T-SPLOST in the Rear View Mirror

In the wake of the resounding defeat of the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, commonly known as T-SPLOST, two things remain obvious. Gwinnett County, and the entire Atlanta region still sorely needs a solution to its traffic problem, and voters aren’t willing to pay taxes for transportation “solutions” that don’t adequately address the core problems. While lack of trust in government is being cited as the primary reason for T-SPLOST’s defeat, (and is certainly a consideration) an equally significant component in the equation for rejection was project illogicality. (Believe it or not, that’s a real word.)

Had it passed, T-SPLOST would have allocated approximately 50% of the funds collected to mass transit projects. Yet, even supporters of the legislation acknowledge that mass transit is used by a very small percentage of the population; increasing the number of transit operations won’t appreciably change that. So why should anyone expect the expansion of the mass transit system to measurably reduce traffic? Increasing the number of options simply provides a wider choice of bus and rail lines for people not to use.

Another component in the equation for rejection is the distinctly different priorities of people living inside and outside the perimeter.   Inside dwellers viewed T-SPLOST much more favorably than outsiders, and mass transit appeared to be the fork in the road to “yes” or “no votes. For residents living in the counties outside the perimeter, the T-SPLOST message was, “If you want improved roads, you’ll have to buy mass transit to get them.” There’s a word for that type of tactic, but in this case, “unsuccessful” comes to mind.

Ironically, while T-SPLOST promoters spent roughly $10 million dollars on a campaign to convince voters to select “yes”, low-cost, common sense solutions to traffic congestion are all but ignored. Synchronizing traffic lights, enforcing “keep right” laws and staggered working hours certainly won’t eliminate the crush of vehicles on the highways during peak travel times, but they’ll ease the accompanying frustration somewhat. Traffic is never as maddening when your vehicle is moving as it is when the roadway becomes a parking lot.

Prior to the election, proponents claimed that the Atlanta area would suffer immeasurable economic harm if T-SPLOST didn’t pass. Allegedly, rejection would send the message that Atlantans had no interest in improving the city’s traffic problems. Corporations considering relocating to Atlanta would hear that message and look elsewhere. That remains to be seen, but what is clearly evident is that voters in the Atlanta area won’t buy into illogicality.

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