Transportation: Describing problem isn’t the hard part

MARTA_-_N3_StationAs a description of Georgia’s transportation crisis, the report issued earlier this month by a legislative study committee was notable for its candor, if not for its courage:

It notes that state spending on upkeep for existing roads and bridges is unsustainably low. In 2012, for example, Georgia spent $13,982 per mile on upkeep, compared to $122,699 per mile in Florida. Instead of resurfacing roads every 14 to 16 years, we’re on a schedule to do so every 50 years. That’s a slow, bumpy road to ruin.

In addition:

  • It acknowledges the need for transit, calling it “critical that the state of Georgia increase its commitment” to public transportation. Going still further, it advocates a “separate, permanent funding stream” for transit.
  • Overall, the lack of transportation investment “places Georgia at a significant competitive disadvantage,” the committee warns, concluding that “Georgia must take immediate and significant steps to increase its investment in transportation infrastructure.”
  • And by “significant”, the committee says we need another $1.5 billion a year to “merely preserve the current transportation system.” Addressing just the most critical expansion needs would “require an additional investment each year of between $2.1 billion and $2.9 billion.” If you want to make a real impact with passenger rail and other options already being pursued in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Texas, we’ll need between $3.9 billion and $5.4 billion in additional annual spending.

It’s important to note the historic nature of such admissions. This crisis has been building for decades, and for decades state leaders have refused to acknowledge its magnitude. The fact that the chairs of both the House and Senate transportation committees have signed onto such statements suggests that the ice is breaking and minds are opening.

The support — even if merely rhetorical — for state aid to transit is also noteworthy, given that MARTA has long been the only major transit agency in the country forced to operate without financial backing from its state government.

However, acknowledging a problem is not the same thing as having the guts to fix it. It doesn’t bode well that the 16-member study panel chose not to commit to a specific action plan, instead listing a series of possible revenue options that the governor and Legislature could choose among, such as raising the gasoline tax or sales tax. It’s also troubling that even though the report advocates a permanent funding stream for transit, it makes no effort to suggest such a stream. In fact, some of the revenue options might preclude support for transit, given an archaic constitutional provision that limits gas-tax revenue to roads and bridges.

And although the numbers are vague, it appears that if state leaders were to embrace every major revenue increase listed in the report — a political impossibility — we would raise enough to “merely preserve the current transportation system,” but not much more. We’d still be well beneath the spending totals that the committee itself says are required to keep Georgia economically competitive.

In another words, with courageous political leadership, we might — MIGHT — succeed in pulling off the bare minimum to keep things from getting much worse. That’s how big a hole we’re in.

Reader Comments 0

440 comments
Plumb Krazy
Plumb Krazy

Wonder why there is no money? Could it be the spending of fuel taxes on other stuff? Could it pandering to the few with tax breaks? Say airlines, railroads, farmers, movie makers, sales taxes on energy use by chamber nuts exemptions, GATE cards? With all the deadbeats the GOP has added to the roles the tax burden on everybody else is in jeopardy of rising.

Peachs
Peachs

Georgia is going through a demographic change, and soon will have enough votes to drag the state into the 21st century and to use its talents for something productive. We are like a beautiful woman married to a ugly old man, but soon that old white guy is going to die and free that woman to be who she really is.

DekalbComments
DekalbComments

An efficient transportation system is critical to moving goods and persons into, out of and through any metropolitan area. 


Georgia continues to attract new business to the state often in exchange for tax incentives. There are two underlying problems with that system. One is that new business will likely bring more people to the state. Those people will require transportation and other infrastructure - whether that is water and sewage, electrical power, etc. Those costs are never fully born by the persons who move to the state and by giving the businesses tax incentives, the businesses don't pay for the additional burdens being placed on the infrastructure. 


Infrastructure such as roads, bridges, mass transit, etc. costs money. It isn't something you can starve unless you want to destroy the local economy. And if you starve it long enough it becomes nearly impossible to recover. I think we are at that point now in Georgia. 


It would take all the political will of Governor Deal and the GOP leadership in the Legislature to even keep things from falling apart further. I don't see any political alignment that could come close to making the necessary investments to address the infrastructure shortfall and begin to build for the future. 



DekalbComments
DekalbComments

@barkingfrog @DekalbComments


I think there is a strong will within the majority of the Republicans in Congress to demonstrate they can govern and get things done that are not just taking things away from people and shutting down the government. They believe, rightly so, that they can use any success in governing in Congress to retain their majorities and bolster the GOP Presidential candidate.


As a result I think there will likely be some actual political bartering that progresses some things. I'm not expecting a very productive Congress but I do think some things will get done despite the will of the Teahadists. 


The President as well will have some things he would like to see done and will sacrifice some progressive priorities if he can get some of his priorities done. 


But any real investment in infrastructure or jobs is not going to come out of this Congress. I expect the budget will continue to be very much an austerity budget except in the area of defense and possibly some tax changes that on the surface appear to be steps forward but maintain tax advantages for the big donors. 

Peachs
Peachs

@barkingfrog @DekalbComments the pork barrel is more open than people think, it just doesn't want to help Democrat states, watch you will be surprised, but it won't encourage anything that brings any population change to the state, like transportation or new jobs. 

fedup52
fedup52

Rupert Murdoch        @rupertmurdoch Follow

Maybe most Moslems peaceful, but until they recognize and destroy their growing jihadist cancer they must be held responsible.


Here is Rawling's response


J.K. Rowling         @jk_rowling Follow

I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I'll auto-excommunicate.

+++++

That is Fox News in a nut shell.

fedup52
fedup52

Has GOT been banned recently?

lvg
lvg

What is wrong with being 49th in transportation funding? Matches unemployment standing of Georgia and no. uninsured  patients are not far off in national standing. Now if we can close some more hospitals and schools, Shady could have won the race tro the bottom! Quite impressive. Voters reelected a national quadruple winner!

SwamiDave
SwamiDave

How about the "separate funding mechanism" for mass transit be that those who want it & use it pay for it?


Glad to help.


-SD

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@SwamiDave

How about the "separate funding mechanism" for mass transit be that those who want it & use it pay for it?

You mean like they don't do anywhere in the civilized world?

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@SwamiDave sure, when you adopt the same strategy for road users paying the full costs of the roads . . . including emissions. ain't no free rides, right? glad to help.

barkingfrog
barkingfrog

td1234 8 minutes ago

The Feds could defund Obamacare and pay for all the roads to be repaired and new mass transit if there is a will from the progressives to choose to do so. 


> I believe your cons have the majority...

td1234
td1234

The Feds could defund Obamacare and pay for all the roads to be repaired and new mass transit if there is a will from the progressives to choose to do so. 

fedup52
fedup52

@td1234  On the other hand the Feds can tax the 53 percenters 95% tax rate and fix the transport problem.

Numbers_R_Us
Numbers_R_Us

@td1234 So tell us, genius, if you defund ObamaCare, what funds would you then have left to pay for anything.  Or is this a corollary to the Republican dynamic scoring meme.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@td1234 And you could stop blathering about this, that and the other thing if you had the will to do so.


Crossbreed
Crossbreed

So the various municipal and state govt's keep providing (dense) building permits which raises the tax base and then say "hey, we need to raise taxes for transportation"


The issue with gov't is not the taxes paid- it is the value received.  We pay enough for steak and wine and we get rabbit turds thrown at us.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

President Barack Obama, we are told, watched the NFL playoffs on Sunday instead of going to the anti-terror rally in Paris. Moreover, his apparent representative in Paris, controversial Attorney General Eric Holder, taped Sunday shows from the French capital but failed to attend the rally itself. Secretary of State John Kerry had a valid excuse–a critical mission to India–but Vice President Joe Biden did not. Why was the Obama administration so visibly absent in Paris?

Leading

From behind

As usual

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany @JamVet "At the end of the day, before this weekend, our allies knew that they couldn't depend on Obama."


I don't believe you're in a position to speak for any of our allies, let alone all of them.


"This weekend only confirmed that."


So you also think that it was unhelpful for the President and Vice President to curtail their public appearances in the days after 9/11, right?


DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@Tuna Meowt @DownInAlbany He's the so-called leader of the free world.   It's disgraceful.  At least to me.

It would be to you, if you didn't feel it necessary apologize for everything he does...or in this case doesn't do.  Keep giving him a free pass.

JamVet
JamVet

@DownInAlbany 

What is the problem??!!

These were disgusting FRENCH people that were killed.

As the GOP's enemy, they deserved it.

You know, those perpetual cowards always do.

Yet you feign giving a flying ____ about the French?????!!!!!

Good one, DiA...

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@DownInAlbany @JamVet If Obama had gone it would have created a nightmare security wise and been a huge distraction


As usual he made the right call by staying home. 

JamVet
JamVet

@DownInAlbany @JamVet 

Tell me how much you love the French people, DiA!

Maybe just the top ten things!

LOLOLOLOL!!!

Good gawd, you rabid right wingers can barely contain your animus towards them...


consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@DownInAlbany @consumedconsumer @Tuna Meowt No, he just exercised caution and prudence and decided not to make it bigger than it already was. Seriously . . . we are the main cheerleaders in the GWOT. We are the trophy. His being there could have made an already stretched security situation that much worse. 


but whatever, blame him all day long. it's what you do.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@JamVet @DownInAlbany At the end of the day, before this weekend, our allies knew that they couldn't depend on Obama.  This weekend only confirmed that.

Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany "Why was the Obama administration so visibly absent in Paris?"


What the f**k do you care?


Tuna Meowt
Tuna Meowt

@DownInAlbany @Tuna Meowt "He's the so-called leader of the free world.   It's disgraceful.  At least to me."


It's disgraceful to you that our President didn't appear at a rally for the French terror victims.  Since when do you care about either the President *or* the French?


"It would be to you, if you didn't feel it necessary apologize for everything he does...or in this case doesn't do."


And of course you noticed that I'm not apologizing for jack spit -- instead I'm calling *your* hypocrisy out.


"Keep giving him a free pass."


There are a lot of things I disagree with the President on.  This is not one of them, and in any event, it is something of no consequence.  You're just looking for something to vent your butthurt over.


DekalbComments
DekalbComments

@DownInAlbany


I for one am thrilled President Obama did not attend the rally in France. I agree someone from at least a cabinet level position or perhaps the Vice President should have attended. But as for BO, he made the absolute correct decision. First of all the French are already on heightened security alert with troops protecting Jewish schools, etc. 


Anytime the President travels anywhere, especially outside the country, there are usually months of advance planning for security. Here there would have been little time to do the necessary planning. Further on any overseas trip, just as a domestic trip, the President's security detail rely heavily on local resources (e.g. police, etc.) to support in protecting the President. 


I think his attendance would have been a bit distraction. It would have been seen more as a matter of "look at me I am the President of the U.S." than showing solidarity with the French people. Further it would have reduced the number of French security forces to protect French nationals and French property.  


It doesn't always have to be about us. Conservatives think the U.S. is the greatest gift ever to mankind. I love my country but I don't think we are the City on the Hill. 

idigalot
idigalot

DiA -- what exactly did YOU do on Sunday to demonstrate your concern for the French?

Brosephus
Brosephus

@DownInAlbany 

Seems like he saved taxpayers lots of money by staying at home and watching football.  Think of how many billions of dollars would have been spent to get all his security apparatus and him to Paris and back for a one day trip.

Conservatives would have howled at the moon because he spent so many millions or billions of dollars just to go walk down the street.  Then again, some conservatives will find a reason to b*tch about what Obama does no matter what.

SeriouslyFolks
SeriouslyFolks

@DownInAlbany To be fair....the Green Bay game was exciting....but I agree, he should have immediately left before the Colts game