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The Dream of World-Class Transit

Every night, I close my eyes and see the solution to Atlanta’s transportation problems.

Our daily traffic crisis is my inspiration. The pro-gridlock party at the state capitol is the cause. In my dreams, I take a particular problem and fine tune the answer night after night till finally I have a dream that represents the solution. 

Tonight, again I lay my head on the pillow and close my eyes and think about what it would be like if Gov. Barnes' transportation bill had been signed by Gov. Sonny Perdue eleven years ago.

The next thing I see is my front yard covered in ice and snow through my living room window. It is the ice storm of January 2011 and it is time to go to work. I walk down the driveway and join my Indian Hills neighbors who are also heading to the CCT bus stop.

When we get to Lower Roswell Road and climb on the bus, I realize that I am the only person who wore golf shoes for extra traction. We pick up Commissioner Bob Ott and some of his neighbors at their stop on Terrell Mill Road. In a few minutes, we get on the train at Cumberland Mall and are heading to Atlanta.

Some passengers are checking their e-mails on their I-pads; others are reading the paper or drinking coffee. Some look out the window and see the same trucks that were stuck in the same place on the interstate yesterday.

Many are resting their eyes. Bob transfers to MARTA and goes to the airport. He is a pilot for Delta. I transfer to the Beltline Railroad which takes me to the front door of my new office building. I look at the mirror in the main atrium and notice that I have lost a few pounds. The little walks to and from the bus stop have reversed my diabetes too.

The next thing I see is Atlanta far below. I’m in a plane approaching Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Traffic below is moving smoothly even at rush hour. All the jobs that have come to the metro area in the last decade haven't overwhelmed its easily expanded world class transportation system. The pilot (it sounds like Bob) announces that the clear air out the window meant another year without a smog alert and Atlanta again has the lowest rate of childhood asthma of any major city in America and the highest employment rate.

Then I see the images of the two greatest Georgians on the side of Stone Mountain, Nobel Peace Prize winners Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. along with President Carter. I smile so big that it makes me wake up from my best dream ever.

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Matt McW October 20, 2011 at 08:16 PM
Videos provided courtesy of the Livable Communities Coalition: www.livcomm.wordpress.com.
Joe Seconder October 20, 2011 at 08:30 PM
As Sam Olens says, we need to work as a REGION. Look at widening Johnson Ferry road south of the River. It took 20 years to happen. Just because it was in a DIFFERENT county? When you go on vacation, where do you say you’re from? Atlanta. Not East Cobb. We need REGIONAL leadership and planning. Not just focused on “my” neighborhood. We are all related by cause and effect. Do we want to become a world class city? Then we have got to have a world class multi-modal transit system. For examples in the south, look at Charlotte and Dallas. They’re passing us by with transit. Denver just received $1 Billion in Federal transit funds. 30% of pollution is caused by motor vehicles, which contributes to asthma. Asthma is the number one cause for admission into Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. Milton Friedman uses the term “Neighbor Effect”. If your economic activity has a negative impact on me, you need to pay for it. So think again, if your transportation activity has an impact on others. The answer is clearly YES. Do you know what’s at the bottom of every GDOT stationary? “Georgia is the 6th fastest-growing state in the nation, yet 49th in per capita spending on transportation.”. We must do something now. Metro Atlanta rose up and secured the 1996 Olympics. We added heavy rail connections with MARTA. We improved – a bit – of our infrastructure then. We need another Billy Payne to bring us all together again on this effort today.
janet h russell October 21, 2011 at 03:02 PM
The State of Atlanta is different from the State of Georgia. When transporation funding must be approved by the entire state, then the State of Atlanta which is 50% of the population will still get the shaft from the rest of the state which does not see Atlanta as the economic powerhouse for this state. No surprise that Marta is the only mass transit system in a major metropolitan area NOT funded by the state but that same state can dictate how the revenues collected are spent...why?
Robbie Huck October 24, 2011 at 01:55 PM
mike- name a city or two that, in your eyes, has great mass transit and no traffic back-ups. just curious what you're dreaming about. keep writing. robbie
Mike Holzknecht October 28, 2011 at 01:51 PM
Hello Robbie, Traditionally in America development is poorly planned or not planned at all. Development leads the way and transportation infrastructure follows. This means traffic back-ups followed by road improvements, followed by back-ups, followed by road improvements, till no improvement is possible or just counterproductive like the "Hot Lanes". Transportation should lead the way with planned development to follow. The closest example is the Beltline Railroad. Try reading "SubUrban Nation". It provides success stories where the residents and developers can have their cake and eat it too. By the way, In 2009 MARTA transported 482,500 every day by bus and rail. Add that to our already congested roads and metro Atlanta would go from a congested city to a perpetual parking lot. Thanks, Mike Holzknecht

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