Category: Transportation

The Monkey Trap in Transportation Policy

By Benita M. Dodd  A once-in-a-blue-moon event occurred recently at a committee meeting of Georgia’s State Transportation Board. During an update on projects in the state’s various congressional districts, the committee was informed that a local government had withdrawn its project from consideration for funding, opting to complete it instead with local money.   The “original” monkey trap is a hollow container chained to a stake and baited with food. The hole in the container is just big enough for the monkey to reach into but not large enough for it to withdraw both the food and its paw. The food is far too enticing to release, however, so the monkey willingly sits there, food in hand in jar, as its… View Article

Transportation Solutions For a Transit-Challenged Region

By Stephen Fleming  (Part II of a two-part commentary. Read Part I, “In Transportation, as in Technology, Packets Beat Circuits,” at  Atlanta grew up around cars. It’s fundamentally a packet-switched infrastructure. Ask any telecom engineer. You cannot replace a packet-switched infrastructure with circuit switching for any reasonable amount of money. Can’t be done.  “But they do it in New York City,” I hear you cry. Yes, and that’s because New York City grew up around mass transit. It’s physically different from Atlanta (or pretty much any other town in America outside the Northeast, except maybe Chicago). The circuits are dense enough to have connection points within walking distance.  Look at the cities with successful public transit… View Article
By Stephen Fleming  (Part 1 of a two-part commentary) Why are so many mass transit policies doomed to failure?  Because packets beat circuits. Let’s explore an analogy.  In the telecommunications world, the big story of the last 20 years has been the total and complete triumph of various packet-switching architectures over circuit-switching.  Put simply, circuit switching started with Alexander Graham Bell. Your voice was converted to electrical signals in your telephone, then a pair of copper wires ran out to the street, where they were bundled with more pairs of copper wires, then finally to a telephone central office. At first manually, then automatically, and finally digitally, a connection was established between your pair of wires and the pair of… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd  Any elected official who proposes raising gas taxes or fees to fund transportation infrastructure needs in Georgia is probably not planning on re-election. Yet every policy-maker knows the state needs an innovative approach and deep pockets to plan for a future without mind-boggling traffic congestion. But innovation is nothing new to State Transportation Board member Garland Pinholster, no stranger to controversy and never one to back down from a challenge. As Oglethorpe University’s basketball coach, he scheduled the first integrated college basketball game in Georgia 45 years ago, against Rhode Island. In a shocking upset, the “little guy,” Oglethorpe, won 64-47. He’s been a soldier, author, tennis champ, businessman and state legislator. And with the characteristic… View Article

No Time to Detour from Viable Transportation Solutions

By Benita M. Dodd Traffic congestion in metro Atlanta, where half the vehicle miles traveled in Georgia are concentrated, is frequently blamed on land use patterns in a region derided as the poster child for sprawl. But just how much would it help for transportation agencies to focus on “smart growth” initiatives like transit-oriented, mixed-use, in-fill and higher-density development? Not much, according to Alain Bertaud, an urban planner with more than 30 years’ international professional experience. In fact, he maintains that “as long as voters believe that federally subsidized transit and smart growth will solve the congestion and pollution problems they are unlikely to support solutions which address the problems.” Bertaud, who has used geographic information systems (GIS) extensively to… View Article

Bumps in Study on Speed Humps

By Randal O’Toole and Kathleen Calongne A recent paper purporting to show that speed humps make residential streets safer for children actually shows nothing of the kind. In fact, the study’s data can even be interpreted to mean that humps make streets more dangerous. Speed humps are annoying and potentially dangerous to drivers and can cause deadly delays to emergency service vehicles. But an Oakland, Calif., study (see claims to show that speed humps make streets 50 to 60 percent safer for children. The study used a database showing when and where 1,600 speed humps were installed on Oakland streets between 1995 and 2000. Ideally, the researchers would have compared accident rates on those streets before the speed… View Article
Benita M. Dodd Georgia faces a $7.7 billion transportation funding shortfall over the next six years, the state Department of Transportation reminds us on its new Web site, Bridging that significant gap requires policy-makers to adopt a combined approach involving taxpayers, transportation users and the private sector. Cynics and supporters of big government portray private investment as greedy capitalist pigs controlling our roads and redirecting traffic to “their” streets based on a profit motive. They propose using federal or state funds for projects – as if it’s other people’s money, not our own paychecks involved. They wonder why government can’t simply raise the gas tax to fund the needed maintenance and enhancements to transportation. Bear in mind that… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Transportation proposals are chasing lawmakers at such an exciting and breathtaking pace this year that the convergence of plans under the Gold Dome seems destined to outdo NASCAR’s legendary pileups. Just last November, Georgia Public Policy Foundation senior fellow Robert Poole, who is the Transportation Director of Reason Foundation, outlined a massive, innovative and astonishingly bold plan to get Atlanta out of the congestion forecast for the metro area. It included an express network of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes instead of planned high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes; a tunnel from the southern end of Georgia 400 to I-20 and on to I-675; an east-west toll route from Lakewood Freeway to I-20, and a truck toll tunnel that… View Article

Telework: Transporting Workers into a Global Economy

By Michael J. Dziak  Just a dozen years ago it was considered avant garde for an organization to allow employees to work from home. Today, increasing numbers of employees are quietly migrating away from noisy distracting offices to crank out productive work wherever they happen to be.   With ubiquitous mobile technology, portable work, and high-speed digital “hot spots” within reach of PDAs, “26.6 million Americans worked at home in their primary job at least once a month” according to a recent eMarketer Spotlight Report. Research firm IDC projects more than 878 million remote workers “globally” by 2009.   “Globally” is the operative word: Today’s technology makes communicating with an employee in London as easy as with one in a home office… View Article

Road to Congestion Relief Paved with Common Sense

By Benita M. Dodd When the Georgia Public Policy Foundation presented testimony to the State Board of Transportation’s Intermodal Committee in September opposing the proposed Atlanta-Lovejoy commuter rail line, the goal was not to sabotage a transportation alternative. The Foundation’s goal – a longstanding goal – was to urge the implementation of cost-effective, commonsense and viable transportation options that will actually relieve congestion in the metro Atlanta region.  In that vein, during a public comment period that ended November 30, the Foundation commended the innovative promise in the Governor’s Congestion Mitigation Task Force, representing a team of state and metro Atlanta agencies – and urged it to remain committed to its directive: providing a measure to prioritize congestion mitigation.  Judging… View Article

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is the best source of the rarest and most valuable commodity in public policy debate: facts.

State Representative Bob Irvin more quotes