State lawmakers to conduct transit town hall on Sat.
by Marcus E. Howard
mhoward@cherokeetribune.com
September 14, 2012 12:00 AM | 1222 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
CANTON — A town hall meeting on transportation, deemed “Plan B,” with state Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) and state Sen. John Albers (R-Roswell) is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Alpharetta City Hall at 2 South Main St.

Information released about the event said the interactive meeting is intended to be part of an ongoing dialogue between Cherokee and north Fulton county residents about addressing Georgia’s ongoing transportation needs and discussing solutions to ease congestion in north Georgia and the rest of the state.

The public is encouraged to attend and offer feedback on how to develop an innovative transportation system.

In August, Rogers said he hoped to repeal the legislation that originally created TSPLOST, a proposed $8.5 billion transportation tax for the 10-county metro Atlanta region that proponents hoped would ease congestion but ultimately ended in a crushing defeat by voters on July 31.

“That process proved not to be very successful, so I think there’s a lot of reasons why we should repeal the current law and start over again,” Rogers said at the time. “We cannot allow the process to veer off course into economic development projects, which is really what happened this time. We’ve got to stay focused solely on traffic mitigation.”

In April, Jane Hayse, director of the transportation planning division of the Atlanta Regional Commission, told Cherokee residents at a transportation informational session that 30 percent of the county’s commuters travel outside the county for work. Fifty-five percent of county commuters spend at least 30 minutes and 30 percent spend at least 45 minutes one way each day driving to work, she said.

She also said metro Atlanta has seven of the worst bottlenecks in the country, including Interstate 285 at Interstate 85 northbound and I-285 at Interstate 75 near Windy Hill Road.

TSPLOST divided the state up into 12 regions and voters in each of the regions had the option of passing a 1 percent sales tax to fund transportation projects in their regions. Nine of the 12 regions rejected the tax.

Projects in Cherokee included widening Highway 140/Hickory Flat Highway between I-575 and the Fulton County line and replacing the bridge on Bells Ferry Road over Lake Allatoona.

Businessman Scot Turner of Holly Springs was an outspoken opponent of TSPLOST when he ran unsuccessfully against veteran state Rep. Sean Jerguson for the newly drawn District 22 state House of Representatives seat that includes much of the Holly Springs area.

Turner said he is opposed to any similar “regional governance” plan for transportation moving forward, which Gov. Nathan Deal also expressed opposition to soon after the TSPLOST vote.

“We have enough levels of government,” said Turner, who describes himself as conservative.

“What TSPLOST did was create a regional body that wasn’t elected. There was no way I could hold them with accountability. They had preordained how much money they were going to have to spend. So even my state legislator can’t change how much money this unelected regional body would spend.”

Meanwhile, the Northwest Corridor project – which at $1 billion equals one-eighth of the entire TSPLOST project list – has been quietly moving forward. The plan will add reversible toll lanes to I-75 and I-575. Construction could begin in late 2013 with the reversible lanes open to traffic by 2018.

Turner said he believed the project will help traffic flow in the short-term but is unsure how much it will help years from now.

“If all of the engineers decide that that’s the best way of easing traffic congestion, then how we fund it would be something of concern to me,” said Turner.

On whether he will seek elected office again, Turner said to ask him that question “in another year.”



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