To hear supporters of the T-SPLOST speak, if the T-SPLOST does not pass, not only will the Atlanta area no longer be attractive to companies looking to relocate, we'll actually start running companies off that are already located here. How preposterous!
For decades now, the Atlanta REGION has been a destination for companies to locate facilities here. Several have even relocated their corporate headquarters here. Many of those, though, have located regional offices here, primarily in Atlanta's suburbs. Over all those years, there has NEVER been rail transit EXCEPT in Fulton and Dekalb counties. Yet, companies STILL seek to move here.
So, many of the supporters of the T-SPLOST claim the referendum will reduce congestion. Then, the Georgia DOT lets it slip that passage of the measure would not appreciably reduce our "congestion problem." In fact, it appears the REAL purpose of the T-SPLOST is for economic development. Supporters point to the fact that everywhere there's a MARTA rail station, office and retail development soon follows.
I don't know about you, but I'm not really interested in having Cobb Countians pay almost a billion dollars in taxes to spur real estate development inside the Perimeter.
I'm predicting a devastating loss for the T-SPLOST. So, here's an idea that could offer a more widely used rail system AND create development opportunities virtually statewide. What IF we had light rail or monorail that ran from Chattanooga through Macon to Savannah and from Columbus through Macon to Augusta? What IF we allowed it to be funded completely through private investment? What IF MARTA were merely part of that system instead of the center of the hub? And, what IF passengers actually paid the REAL cost of their ride on the system?
I believe such a system COULD be done privately on existing interstate right-of-way by private companies without a single dime of taxpayer money. In fact, I believe it could be completely FINISHED by the time MARTA could finish the short line from Cumberland Mall to Midtown Atlanta. Incentives could be offered to the first contractor to finish their particular section of the project, say a billion dollars.
Imagine the jobs created all across the state building this transportation system. Imagine the development that would follow. Imagine how attractive Georgia would be by having private companies building such an extensive transportation network. Imagine Atlanta, its suburbs and outlying areas cooperating while enhancing their own areas.
I believe such a system holds much more promise than a centrally controlled effort like the T-SPLOST. We have far to many opportunities AROUND Atlanta to be bound to one big project. Let's put our minds and resources to work creating opportunities for ALL Georgians.