Category: Transportation

A January 22, 2016 article by Dave Williams in The Atlanta Business Chronicle quotes Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd on the folly of rail expansion for metro Atlanta. The article is below; access the article online here. Market forces will power state’s new transportation plan By Dave Williams Toll lanes across the entire top end of the Perimeter and on Georgia 400 north to Atlanta’s far suburbs. Rebuilt interchanges at Interstate 285 and I-20 east and west of Atlanta. And new truck-only lanes on I-75 from Macon to McDonough. All are part of an ambitious $10 billion, 10-year transportation plan Gov. Nathan Deal announced Jan. 12. After some initial experiments, the plan’s unprecedented scope shows theGeorgia Department of View Article
By Robert Krol Each year, state and local governments decide on which transportation infrastructure projects to build. Often, priority goes to projects directed at reducing highway congestion or air pollution. The economic backbone of the decision process is supposed to be an objective cost-benefit analysis. However, calculating the costs and benefits of any major project is technically difficult. Cost estimates require a determination of labor and material quantities and prices. Benefit estimates require forecasting economic growth, demographic trends, and travel patterns in the region. Clouding the analysis is the fact that this decision process takes place in a political environment. Politicians love the publicity they get at the opening of a high-occupancy vehicle lane or the expansion of a mass… View Article
The New York Times quoted Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd in a January 1, 2016, article by Alan Blinder about the Atlanta Streetcar System. The full article is below; the link to the newspaper is here. Atlanta Begins Charging for a Streetcar Named Undesirable by Some By Alan Blinder ATLANTA — The streetcar was stopped in downtown traffic, and before long Keisha Schwarzel figured that was enough of a first experience with the year-old addition to Atlanta’s transit system. “I’d rather walk,” Ms. Schwarzel, 35, said on a rain-drenched Wednesday morning. And that was when the ride was free. On Friday, looking beyond the setbacks that became grist for the mass-transit skeptics who populate the suburbs, Atlanta’s 2.7-mile,… View Article
By Ross Elliott  When’s the last time you heard some futurist or management guru suggest that in the future more of us will be working at the same desk doing routine tasks on a predictable working week schedule? No? That’s just one of many problems that advocates of limitless spending on public transport need to keep in mind in dealing with the issue of urban congestion. Increasing urban congestion is said to cost the economy dearly and if Infrastructure Australia is to be believed, it will cost even more in the future unless something is done now. They warn the current estimate of a $13.7 billion annual cost will balloon to $53 billion by 2031. Congestion is without dispute a… View Article

Georgia Gas Tax Hike: Much Ado About Nothing

By Clay G. Collins and E. Frank Stephenson  One of the most significant bills enacted by the Georgia Legislature in 2015 was the nearly billion-dollar Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (HB 170). A key provision of the bill was a change in Georgia’s gasoline tax, taking effect on July 1.  Before the change, Georgia had a two-part gas tax: a 7.5 cents per gallon excise tax and a 4 percent state sales tax. Gas was also subject to local option sales taxes, which run another 3 percent in most counties. Levying gas taxes as a percentage of the purchase price had drawbacks. One was difficulty in transportation planning because tax revenue fluctuated with gas prices. Another was the perverse feature… View Article
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an op-ed on May 19, 2015, about the Atlanta Streetcar by Foundation Vice President Benita Dodd, “A streetcar named denial.” Read it on the newspaper’s Web site here (subscription required); the full text is below. A streetcar named denial By Benita Dodd After almost five months of official Atlanta Streetcar operation, city officials are exploring route expansion to the Beltline. But storefronts boarded up and covered by newsprint along the route are their own news story on the economic-development promise. It may be that the promises are simply slow to be fulfilled. Nevertheless, looking ahead to Streetcar promises should require looking back on past promises. Deadlines: The streetcar was originally scheduled to begin operating in… View Article

The Concrete Road Less Traveled

By Benita M. Dodd What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgians are using a product that may not always be the best value for money? What if you were told that 95 percent of Georgia’s roads are asphalt, even though that may not always be the best value for money? “The whole point of competition in the market is to create economic efficiency which, by its very nature, means eliminating the less efficient producers,” economist and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell wrote recently. Georgia’s concrete paving companies aren’t inefficient, but they have been overlooked. Working to overcome decades in second place is like turning a tanker. The state has the nation’s 10th-largest transportation system, 121,000 miles of road… View Article

UPDATED: Transportation Funding Update

How did we get here? The portion of Georgia’s motor fuel tax that is dedicated to transportation funding is among the lowest in the nation. Over the last decade, state leaders have diverted funds for maintenance into sorely needed new projects. Today, not only do we have a backup of needed maintenance (not unlike the years of neglected maintenance of the Atlanta sewer system) and additional debt to service, but we also need added investment to relieve some of the nation’s worst traffic congestion in Metro Atlanta and other bottlenecks throughout the state. What is the need? In our lengthy study, we determined Georgia needs $1 billion a year of new revenue to meet ongoing maintenance needs as well… View Article

Thoughts on the gas tax

The Tax Foundation has released a new report to help federal lawmakers figure out how to address transportation challenges. Some of the advice could also prove helpful to Georgia as we struggle with similar problems. From the Tax Foundation’s press release: If lawmakers decide to look for revenue instead of cutting trust fund spending, their source of revenue should be long-term and should connect drivers as closely to the cost of funding the roads as possible, according to the latest report from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. One option is to increase the gas tax, adjust it to inflation, and offset that increase by reducing another tax by the same amount of revenue. Besides being revenue neutral, there are good policy… View Article

Clearing Up Confusion over Transportation Funding

By Kelly McCutchen  The Georgia House of Representatives has presented legislation to help transportation funding. Its road to legislative success is already potholed with protests – from local government and education officials to those worried about higher taxes and more. As with the debate over the 2012 transportation sales tax referendum, the Georgia Public Foundation agrees the state requires greater funding – for needs, not “nice-to-haves.” We have provided detailed evidence of statewide needs that will cost a minimum of $1 billion a year. From a fiscally conservative viewpoint, it’s always better to prioritize existing spending rather than raise taxes. As the Foundation has pointed out several times, a good starting point is the more than 40 percent of transportation… View Article

The best way to make a lasting impact on public policy is to change public opinion. When you change the beliefs of the people; the politicians and political parties change with them.

Senator Herman E. Talmadge more quotes