Category: Transportation

By Mike Klein MIKE KLEINEditor, Georgia Public Policy Foundation It is somewhat understandable that the Atlanta highway system was built like a wheel with the city at the center and interstates fanning out from the core.  Think about our regional rail lines as they existed before and after the Civil War:  a few rail lines primarily destined for Terminus as it was known before the city’s name became Atlanta.  The folly was to design 20th Century highways on a 19th Century rail model.  Flush everything and everyone directly into the core and you get gridlock.  Know it, feel it, own it. Well-meaning politicians and planners have spent decades chasing whatever the current view was of the best balance between interstates,… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Benita DoddVice President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Money talks, especially at the Georgia General Assembly, where the state’s ongoing funding challenges and growing needs inspired separate Senate committee hearings this week, one investigating public-private partnerships (PPPs) for Georgia infrastructure and the other working on integrating metro Atlanta’s public transportation services. Several challenges are encouraging governments to think outside the box. There continues to be talk about “federal” funds – otherwise referred to as taxpayer dollars – coming to the states, but the partisan divide in federal budget negotiations has left states pessimistic. In addition, it’s increasingly evident that states’ needs outstrip federal largesse, that federal largesse is shrinking and that local governments have to do more… View Article
By Alex Roman Alternative project delivery, including public-private partnerships (PPPs); design-build; and design-build-operate-maintain, are viewed as attractive options for transit agencies, as they transfer risk and accelerate the project process.  However, while these forms of project delivery continue to take hold in Europe, Asia and Africa, there have been a limited amount of projects in the U.S. that have utilized these innovative solutions. METRO Magazine spoke to representatives from several companies to discuss why forms of alternative project delivery have been slow to take off in the U.S., as well as the possible benefits and what transit agencies should look for before selecting a partner.      How does alternative project delivery benefit a public transportation agency? Mel Placilla (Director, professional services, View Article
By Baruch Feigenbaum Baruch FeigenbaumSenior FellowGeorgia Public Policy Foundation Discussions are resuming in the Southeast about a high-speed rail corridor. Unfortunately, the  evidence suggests that high-speed rail’s limited success in Europe and Asia is not transferrable to the United States. From a financial standpoint, things don’t look good. The majority of high-speed rail lines require large government subsidies from both general taxpayers and drivers. Even with generous subsidies, traveling by high-speed rail is still more expensive than flying for 12 of the 23 most popular high-speed rail routes in the world. The evidence suggests that high-speed rail can only be competitive on routes that are 200-to 500 miles in length. High-speed rail is also very expensive to build. Most new… View Article
By Kenneth Orski  President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request includes $77 billion for the Department of Transportation and an additional $50 billion “for immediate transportation investments.” His next transportation bill calls for a 25 percent increase in funding over current levels and assumes a transfer of $214 billion to the Highway Trust Fund over six years, “to maintain trust fund solvency and pay for increased outlays.” To offset this spending, the Administration proposes using the “savings” or “peace dividend” from winding down the war in Afghanistan. House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) wasn’t impressed. “The President’s budget,” he said, “repeats his call to increase spending without identifying a viable means to pay for it. … You can’t just… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Pointing fingers, moving the target and playing the blame game: That’s about all the action on transportation seen at the State Capitol this past session, despite the rancorous discussion immediately after the regional transportation sales tax vote that failed in nine of 12 regions across the state. The lack of movement was as unsurprising as congestion in metro Atlanta on a weekday afternoon. Legislators seemed in a hurry to leave, dragging their feet on acting on taxes, transportation or tort reform, all of which seriously need an overhaul. That was understandable, too. They faced the unpopular options of prioritizing a tight state budget or raising taxes. Fortunately, beyond the Gold Dome, transportation policy has been chugging… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd BENITA DODD Not many people announce they’re going on a diet; it may fail and they’re left embarrassed. Around the country and in Georgia, planners are quietly going on “road diets” and hoping you’ll be so busy admiring the pretty streetscapes that you won’t notice the gradual shrinking of space for vehicular traffic until it’s too late. This social engineering move is euphemistically called “rightsizing streets.” It has little to do with transportation, and includes strategies such as “converting vehicle lanes to other uses, narrowing vehicle lanes, adding bike lanes, improving pedestrian infrastructure, changing parking configuration and adding roundabouts and medians,” according to the Project for Public Spaces, which earlier this year released a report called… View Article

Improving Economies, Growing Congestion

By Baruch Feigenbaum The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) released its 2012 Urban Mobility Report this month. The major finding is that after remaining static since 2005, congestion is growing, thanks to an improving economy. While the report is best known for analyzing traffic congestion, it also details the role of transit in reducing congestion. Further, it explains how congestion worsens air quality. TTI has been producing this report annually since 1982, during which time congestion has tripled in many U.S. metro areas. TTI made several changes this year, but the most noteworthy is its new metric: the Planning Time Index (PTI). This is the “buffer” time needed to reach a location on time in 19 out of 20 instances. (The… View Article

Beleaguered DOT’s To-Do List is Doable

(Guest column published January 29 by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) By Benita Dodd Benita DoddVice PresidentGeorgia Public Policy Foundation Georgia’s Department of Transportation has been under fire in recent years, much of it deserved amid unwise policy decisions and lackadaisical financial management.  Under new management, with greater transparency and financial accountability, the agency is doing better.  But still more can be done for policy to progress in Georgia’s current economic climate. The department’s job is complicated by the lack of available funding.  Last year, voters in all but three of 12 regions rejected a proposed regional penny sales tax that would have funded projects in each region.  The shortfall is more serious when considering declining fuel tax revenues; congressional earmarks that… View Article

Funding Dearth Opens Opportunity Under the Gold Dome

By Kelly McCutchen Kelly McCutchen, President, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Not everything is off limits to Georgia’s government in an economic recession. On the contrary, the challenge forces Georgia to explore opportunities for fundamental reforms that improve efficiency and effectiveness in the long run. Below are ideas that, if implemented, could help position the state ideally for the future. First, the state can enhance bipartisan criminal justice reforms enacted in 2012 by reforming the juvenile justice system and by protecting innocent owners and their property rights through a reform of civil asset forfeiture law. Then, there’s an ideal opportunity to improve access to justice for victims of medical negligence with patient-centered tort reform. The medical malpractice system works well for… View Article

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