Category: The Forum

HOT Lanes Moving Right Along For Georgia

By Benita M. Dodd Help is finally on the way for frustrated travelers once resigned to the absence of wide-open roads in metro Atlanta as policy-makers conquer the anti-automobile agenda and focus on reality-based transportation solutions. Two promising signs came just this week. One was the Atlanta Regional Commission’s official adoption of its $53 billion Mobility 2030 transportation plan for the region. The ARC allocates more than half of the $53 billion to routine maintenance and operations. About $8.2 billion will add roadway capacity; $5 billion will increase transit capacity; $4.6 billion will add high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes; about $3 billion will focus on transportation technology and $1.1 billion will be spent on bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Unfortunately, the ARC… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd About every six months, veteran journalist Elliott Brack co-hosts a bus tour of his home of Gwinnett County that highlights the history and changing face of one of the nation’s fastest-growing counties. Gwinnett is frequently attacked by activists as a prime example of the out-of-control growth that they demand be reined in across metro Atlanta, the so-called poster child for sprawl. It was no surprise that when Commission Chairman Wayne Hill lost his seat recently after 12 years, slow-growth advocates hailed it as a victory over the pro-growth policies “destroying” the county. So it was refreshing when, from the environment to transportation to the economy, Brack’s 69th semi-annual tour of Gwinnett this month reflected an honest… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Attend a local planning meeting these days and the discussion inevitably turns to land use and the role it plays in transportation, congestion and density challenges, especially in the metro Atlanta region. It’s no surprise, given the national trend to “smart growth” practices and Atlanta’s reputation as “sprawl capital of the world,” that area forums and studies reveal a strong push in some quarters to link transportation policy and land use practices. At an Atlanta Regional Commission retreat recently in Cobb County, ARC members heard of the successes of the ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative communities. The ARC provides seed money to communities that incorporate the live-work-play concept, are pedestrian-friendly, improve access to transit and other transportation… View Article

Georgia Needs A High-Risk Health Insurance Pool

By Russ Childers An estimated 1 million of Georgia’s non-elderly residents are uninsured; at 13 percent, one of the highest rates in the country. The good news is that fewer than one in 10 of those were uninsured for more than a year, and nearly seven in 10 are employed or the dependent of an employed person. Some individuals choose not to purchase health insurance, but many of the uninsured believe they can’t afford coverage or have not enrolled in public programs for which they qualify. Many Georgians, however, cannot buy health insurance at any price; they do not have access to insurance through their employer and have a medical condition that causes individual insurers to deny them coverage. If… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd To see the opposing labels slapped on metro Atlanta is to wonder whether people are referring to the same place. The region is denounced across the globe as out of control, congested: the “poster child for sprawl.” Yet it earns accolades, not only as the country’s leading entrepreneurial location but as affordable and among the 50 best places in the nation to live. As diverse as the views are the solutions proposed for the region’s real and imagined woes. Between the extreme views of halting growth or eliminating regulation exists a host of proposals that are forceful reminders that “quality growth” is a matter of perspective. As a matter of perspective: While Georgia continues to be… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd My trip downtown never was the mythical five miles barefoot in the snow, uphill both ways. It did, however, once use up a good part of the day. That B.C. (before cars) memory came flooding back recently as I read a couple of reports trumpeting the benefits of public transportation. An Oakland (Calif.) Tribune story headlined, “Trains, boats beat cars in transit race to airport,” reported that a team of transit riders beat a team of drivers in a morning commute competition. And in a Sierra Club report, “Missing the Train: How the Bush Administration’s Transportation Proposal Threatens Jobs, Commutes, and Public Transit Ridership,” the environmental group declared federal funding for public transportation inadequate, noting that… View Article

DNR Stay Rule Could Encourage Growth To Go

By Benita Dodd After two years of planning, Gadget & Gizmo Inc. is eager to set up its Southeast regional headquarters in Georgia. All that stands in the way is the air emissions permit it needs from the state Environmental Protection Division. And a little hiccup called the Stay Rule, which essentially gives any third party that appeals the permit within 30 days the ability to hinder the company’s plans indefinitely. Jack Smith, a farmer in Carroll County, has applied for a water withdrawal permit. He needs the permit in time to get his irrigation system installed in order to obtain a bank loan next year based on the anticipated harvest value. “If that permit is issued but there is… View Article
By Benita Dodd Within the next few months, Georgians across the state will never again be able to water more than three days a week. State officials, working to foster a culture of conservation, called it “a very big step” for water conservation when the board of the Department of Natural Resources approved rules for permanent statewide outdoor water use restrictions. Promoting a culture of conservation is a noble goal. Excluding agriculture, Georgia’s average daily per-capita water consumption is estimated at 168 gallons compared with a national average of 153 gallons. Our population is growing in leaps and bounds; we’re feuding with the neighbors over who gets what water, and new reservoirs are almost as scarce as hen’s teeth. Steps… View Article
By Harold Brown The picture of air pollution, asthma and other respiratory diseases has been imprinted as a clear image on the minds of Georgians, especially in metro Atlanta. High ozone days bring on warnings to people subject to asthma and other respiratory conditions to curtail their outdoor activities. Newspaper descriptions reinforce the image, reporting that, “When ozone builds up, it literally takes some people’s breath away. It can fill emergency rooms with gasping asthma patients and send coughing joggers toward home.” So commuters are encouraged to carpool or ride MARTA, while government agencies devise strict regulations to reduce air pollutants and protect public health. What could be clearer this month, which is Asthma Awareness Month and the start of… View Article
By Kelly McCutchen Prescription drug costs represent 11 percent of total U.S. health care spending, according to the most recent federal data. This relatively small portion of our health care spending, however, has enormous potential to save lives and reduce overall health care costs. Unfortunately, rather than focusing on ways to enhance the role of pharmaceuticals in keeping people healthy, elected officials are in danger of chasing illusory savings via failed regulatory schemes such as price controls. It is by now an often-repeated fact that the 80/20 Rule applies to health care: 80 percent of the cost is driven by just 20 percent of the people. These individuals most often suffer from multiple chronic diseases such as hypertension, congestive heart… View Article

The Foundation’s positions are well thought out and are often ahead of their time.

State Senator Jack Hill more quotes