Category: Transportation

By James H. Orr Jr. Will massive, endless subsidies become a way of life for Georgians? Apparently so, if our policy-makers listen to the proponents of commuter rail line and other heavy rail and/or light rail options.  In April, the Transit Planning Board (TPB) held public meetings throughout metro Atlanta to “educate” and get the blessings of the public on the TPB’s Concept 3 Proposed Transit Vision Plan Vision. In Gwinnett County, where the meeting was co-sponsored by the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District in Lawrenceville, there were just eight members of the public present – hardly a representative sample for public input and opinion. TPB Staff Director Cheryl King, who presented the Concept 3 plan, reinforced several times that… View Article

Express Toll Network Can Drive Congestion Relief

By Benita M. Dodd  How and how much are far from concurrence, but Georgians agree that what transportation needs most is funding. Sifting through the myriad transportation proposals, however, reveals that policy-makers from the nation’s capital to the state Capitol agree on one more need: toll roads and, specifically, high-occupancy toll lanes.  Back in 2005, Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority studied the potential benefits of high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes, which would allow solo motorists access to formerly high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes for a fee. SRTA concluded that these lanes, often derided as “Lexus lanes,” would provide more than just time savings to the drivers cruising in them:  They would also provide a reliable, shorter trip for transit vehicles and… View Article
By Vance Smith (Excerpted from remarks by Georgia Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, at a Georgia Public Policy Foundation Policy Briefing Luncheon on transportation.) I know we’ve talked to a lot of you here this past summer when we had the transportation funding study committee. I appreciate you speaking up, letting us know how you feel, because that’s the only way we’re going to arrive at a solution to transportation. There’s no one person, as Senator Jeff Mullis said, no “silver bullet.” There’s no one solution out there. And there’s certainly room for everybody’s opinion; I think that’s very important. If we take our time, be very patient, we have the responsibility first of… View Article

Rail’s No Way In or To San Jose

By Benita M. Dodd For those who love to watch the passing parade – and have the time and inclination – few places are better than the sardine can that is a train. That’s why, once one neglects to make a timely reservation on any of the popular 30-minute, $40 road shuttle services between San Francisco and San Jose, the $7.50 Caltrain ticket becomes an enticing option. Once. For 90 minutes in a nearly empty doubledecker car, you have the unique opportunity to eavesdrop on loud cell phone conversations; watch the Webcam conversation on the laptop beneath you; follow in fascination as a wannabe chef creates and devours a strawberry shortcake before your very eyes, or gaze out a grimy… View Article

Priorities should drive transportation policy

By Ron Sifen The metropolitan planning organization for the 10-county metro Atlanta region, the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), recently adopted a $67 billion package of transportation projects over the next 25 years. But there’s a problem: The ARC anticipates that the region will have only about $46.5 billion available over the next 25 years. The ARC is responsible for development of the Regional Transportation Plan for the city of Atlanta and 18 surrounding counties: Barrow, Bartow, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Spalding, Rockdale and Walton. As those governments know, there is a big gap between $67 billion and $46 billion. Having approved the list of projects, the Atlanta Regional Commission has laid… View Article

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

I wanted to publicly say how much I appreciate Georgia Public Policy Foundation.  For those of you that will be entering the Legislature or are relatively new you may not quite yet appreciate how much we rely on Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s research and work.  As you know we’re a citizen’s legislature.  We have very little staff. They have been an invaluable, invaluable resource to us.  To put this [Forum] on and the regular programs that they do throughout the year make us better at what we do. (At the 2012 Georgia Legislative Policy Forum.)

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