I was able to attend yesterday's Eggs and Issues breakfast hosted by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and came away as confused about Georgia's efforts to fix transportation as ever. A quick summary:
Governor Perdue, in his classic COO style: "I will support transportation improvements if and when we can find a plan and a way to fund it."
Lt. Governor Cagle, playing it safe: "I support regional choice in transportation."
Speaker Richardson: "I am leaving it to Vance Smith and company to come up with a plan, but I don't like the regional approach."
Now as a local official, I like the local approach. But I think one reason local officials like the T-SPLOST or more locally driven options is because there is a vacuum right now -- nothing is getting done or funded at the state level, and there is no "plan."
But what I am hearing today is exciting -- that Rep. Smith has put his proposal on the table, and it includes myriad road, transit, cargo, and rail projects that would be funded by a 10-year, one percent statewide sales tax. Folks, the early list includes things like the Brain Train, light rail to the suburbs, the Atlanta Belt Line, and much more.
This is exciting news, and if the bill is well thought out, could be a game changer for Georgia, if GDOT can implement once the funds are raised. It is exciting to see Republican leadership in Georgia understanding that transportation is about more than rails. Fingers crossed....