Monday morning, July 23, the ARC sent out an email titled "10 Facts about the Regional Transportation Referendum". I would like to respond.
1. Low spending and high congestion: Georgia ranks 48th in the nation in transportation spending per capita, and ranks 4th in total hours the average commuter spends in on the road each day.
Yes, we need to find more money for transportation. But first, we need to manage what we are spending more intelligently. GDOT has failed its last 4 audits and can’t seem to find about $1 billion. Also, according to ARC’s own analyst after we spend $8 billion on these projects the reduction in commute times will be “not much”.
2. Little room for expansion: Without additional funding, about 70 percent of metro Atlanta’s scheduled transportation dollars for the next 30 years will be spent on maintaining our current transportation network, leaving little room for expansion.
Again, we need to fix GDOT first. Maintaining the roads can only be efficient if they can prudently maintain their accounts.
3. Congestion will increase as revenues decrease: Congestion will get worse as the region continues to grow – by some three million more people in the next 25 years. Meanwhile, gas tax revenues will continue to decline as cars become more fuel-efficient.
What’s interesting about this statement is that according to the ARC’s own projections the growth will occur in areas that are not a focus of this project list. Additionally, in the same breath they are screaming that we are "losing" growth to other cities. Adding 3 million more people doesn't sound like "losing" to me.
4. Money stays here: All monies generated here by the 10-year, regional transportation referendum would stay in metro Atlanta and be invested in high-priority projects throughout our 10 counties, from interchange improvements at I-285 and GA 400, to road and safety improvements, to a new light rail line from the Lindbergh MARTA station to the Clifton Corridor.
How much of the already-allocated money for these projects will be redirected to other projects? What is the current origin-destination demand that is being met by the Clifton Corridor project? Wouldn’t it be met less expensively by bus? The I-285/GA400 project isn't scheduled to start until 2020, and is 75% funded by federal dollars which aren't yet secure. How can it be "high-priority"?
5. Positive return on investment: The economic impact over time on the Atlanta region would be far greater than the 1996 Olympics. The referendum investment would result in a $34.8 billion increase in gross regional product in the Atlanta region by 2040. That’s a 4-to-1 return on investment.
Once again, please let us know the underlying assumptions used in your model to get this result. Who realizes the return? What ridership assumptions? What reduction in trip times was used?
6. Job creation and retention: Some 200,000 jobs would be created or retained through the build-out of these new transportation projects. The positive economic effect equates to approximately 7,100 jobs each year from 2013 through 2040.
Already proven to be a false statement by Politifact. Job-years and manipulative assumptions yield an unrealistic number.
7. Business and workforce development opportunities: Policies for strong small business and minority contracting and workforce development efforts have been developed and adopted by key agencies responsible for the project build-out.
Is this about race? Increasing our taxes to provide even more entitlement preferences is not acceptable.
8. Cost savings to commuters: Commuters spend an average of $924 each year due to traffic congestion. Collectively, the time and fuel savings generated by referendum projects would allow residents to save $9.2 billion by 2040.
Again, not sure how the “not much” reduction in commute times can realistically affect the number. 2040 is 28 years from now. What’s the return inside the 10-year tax window. How many projects will be completed within that window? How will the ongoing costs be paid for? Are those ongoing costs included in the “savings” number?
9. Decrease in travel delays: Travellers will enjoy a 24 percent average decrease in future travel delays on roadways improved through road widening, new construction and improved interchanges.
What does the 24 percent mean in terms of minutes? A 24 percent reduction in a 10-minute delay is only 2.4 minutes.
10. Air quality benefits: Air quality improvement would be equal to taking 72,000 vehicles off the roads daily.
These will be offset by the emissions generated by running empty trains and busses all day long. On a total system basis, emissions will be greater for transit than for automobiles.
Get the real facts at www.TrafficTruth.net. Vote NO to the TSPLOST on July 31.