Page 3

MARIETTA DAILY JOURNAL  SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2012

3AA

GROWTH & REVITALIZATION

Gridlock: Is a new sales tax the solution? Continued from Page 2AA

— Chairman Tim Lee, one Cobb’s two representatives on the ARC

‘That’s (light rail) not what Cobb County wants. Not only does it not solve our traffic problems, I believe, frankly, it kills any prospect of passing meaningful traffic relief.’ — Rep. Ed Setzler, (R-Acworth)

Tracking Your

“I can’t quantify it because I’m not an engineer, but I can’t see it (commuting) getting any better. Voting ‘yes’ on the TIA is the only way to ensure the future transportation needs of the county are met, he said. “For the future of Cobb County, I believe it is imperative.”

should have been more involved with the process of setting up the TIA. “This is a state issue,” Lee said. “It should have been driven by the state in its entirety, with input from the local communities as to what projects would work best.” Just before the regional roundtable approved the TIA project list in October, Lee and Mathews made some major changes. Instead of light rail, the final list now calls for $689 million to be used for a “premium enhanced transit system” to connect Acworth to Midtown Atlanta — though that could switch to a mode determined by an “Alternatives Analysis” study due in February 2013. That means the mode could still end up as the light rail line, though completion would then require millions in federal funds — which Sen. Johnny Isakson and U.S. Rep. Tom Price both said would be an uphill battle. Cobb’s Republican state lawmakers have not been shy in criticizing the masstransit proposal. State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) said the TIA, which was passed by the General Assembly in 2010, would have never left committee if lawmakers had known what kind of project list the roundtable would have come up with. “That’s not what Cobb County wants,” Setzler said of the ideas for light rail line. “Not only does it not solve our traffic problems, I believe, frankly, it kills any prospect of passing meaningful traffic relief.” In addition to public transportation, several other projects are on Cobb’s overall project list. They include $47 million for interchange improvements at Interstate 75 and Windy

Hill Road, plus $89.5 million for improvements at Windy Hill Road and Cobb Parkway. Also planned would be $20 million for safety and operational improvements along Roswell Road from Bridgegate Drive to Timber Ridge Road. Meanwhile, the status of another road project — reversible toll lanes on Interstates 75 and 575 in Cobb and Cherokee — remains in flux. As this section went to press in mid-February, Gov. Nathan Deal had just announced a plan to use more gas-tax money to complete the project. For years, the Georgia Department of Transportation had been planning a “public-private” partnership to build reversible toll lanes on Interstates 75 and 575 through Cobb County. The road would include two lanes, running separate from the main highway, south of the split of the two interstates, and one lane on each highway north of the

mdjonline.com all year long online at

split to the county’s northern border. The lanes would be open to southbound traffic during the morning and northbound vehicles in the afternoon. The project would cover 18 miles on I-75 and 11 miles on I-575. Drivers using the toll lanes would be charged based on the flow of traffic, with the cost set to maintain a minimum 45 m.p.h. speed limit. The managed lanes, called the Northwest Corridor project, had an estimated cost of around $1 billion, with $700 million originally expected to come from a private partner. Public funding would include $200 million from state gasoline taxes, as well as $100 million in revenue bonds. GDOT had selected three groups of finalists for

the project when Deal canceled the project in December out of concerns that GDOT would cede control of the I-75 corridor to private investors for up to 60 years. In late January, Lee offered to put the Northwest Corridor project on the TIA list in place of the $689 million earmark for mass transit. “By using tolls, they manage the quantity of automobiles, thereby managing the speed at which automobiles travel,” Lee said. “The purpose of the tolls is not to pay it off, that never will happen. The purpose of the tolls is to contribute to (maintenance and operations) once it gets done and to control the flow of traffic.” Lee said that the managed lanes should be the first step in addressing

transportation needs, with bus rapid transit, or another transit option, to be a second step. “You don’t go from congestion to transit options, you take steps to see how they work together,” he said. Ultimately, Lee said that if nothing is done to ease movement around the region, commute times will only increase, decreasing the quality of life for commuters. “I can’t quantify it because I’m not an engineer, but I can’t see it getting any better,” Lee said. Voting “yes” on the TIA is the only way to ensure the future transportation needs of the county are met, he said. “For the future of Cobb County, I believe it is imperative,” he said.

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012  

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012  

Marietta Daily Journal Progress 2012

Advertisement