We probably have only one opportunity to pass a new transportation funding tool for our region. So it is critically important that we make the right choices for our future transportation needs.I don't want to comment just yet on whether it is a good idea to support a bill with a list in it - the devil is in the details, and we don't yet know what will get through the legislature. However, I can't help but feel like this is indicative of a fundamental problem with how the state and region is governed.
Here is the problem. A possible bill to allow the region to vote on a one-cent sales tax is in the works, but an integral element of that bill is a project list of what transportation improvements the region could fund.
And it’s the project list that worries me. Will it include the kind of transportation improvements that metro Atlanta will need for decades to come?
Given the agencies and people involved in putting together the project list, my fear is that it will include the same-old, same-old — roads and more roads with some limited transit projects thrown in.
There simply don't seem to be any adults in the room willing to make the tough decisions. The political leaders have not realized that the rest of the Southeast has passed us by, and the private leaders haven't done much to help. This isn't just all about politics - there aren't private leaders like there were in the 60's with Mills Lane and Robert Woodruff.
Listen to Hal Berry (again, from Saporta) talk about the competition:
“Nashville has become a great market for us,” Barry said. “Atlanta is sitting on its hands and feet on our problems. We are not getting it done on traffic.”The region and state have been doing nothing for the last decade. Sometimes I wonder if Atlanta will ever become the world-class city it aspires to be... certainly not if things keep going like they are right now. We need leaders who can see beyond polls and tea parties, beyond identity politics, beyond short-term tactical calculations and ego games. We need civic leaders who care about Atlanta.
The economic development division in Tennessee also is “running circles” around Atlanta partly because it doesn’t have to deal the problems of a major city.
“Thy have a can-do attitude,” Barry said. Nashville also has a strong music industry, universities, the medical industry, and it is still small enough to get things done. “It reminds me of Atlanta several years ago.”
But we are too parochial - Gwinnett won't work with Fulton, the House can't work with the Senate, and no one will work with Atlanta. Georgia can't even work with Alabama and Florida to solve the water issue, which will put the kibosh on population growth anyway.
Sorry to be such a wet blanket. You guys know I'm about as big a home-town booster as you can be... but at what point do you just throw up your hands and go somewhere else? We are talking about a region with a stagnating job market, ineffective leadership, crippling infrastructure problems...
I don't think we are ever going to get to a point where I don't need a car to get around town easily. And I want to live somewhere where that is a possibility.