Maxwell: Will fight MARTA ‘’til hell freezes over’

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It appears to me that there are those who wish to distort the facts concerning the role that the current Fayette County Board of Commissioners has with current transportation issues. I write this letter to set the record straight and to address some of the misinformation that is being spread as a result of contested political races.

When I took office on Jan. 1, 2007, the Board of Commissioners (BOC) had been collecting a 1 percent sales tax (SPLOST) for about two years. This SPLOST tax was a result of a majority vote of the voters of Fayette County residents who went to the polls and voted to approve the tax for the specific purpose of improving the road system.

Contained in the documentation detailing the plans for the use of the SPLOST funds were the two Fayetteville bypasses and many other traffic improvement projects.

At the time, the money that was being collected was simply earning interest as there were no active road projects that were shovel ready. In other words, the BOC lead by Greg Dunn, Linda Wells and Peter Pfeifer had no action plan.

I personally met with the engineering firm that had been hired to implement the SPLOST tax dollars. That firm is still the county’s consulting firm today. At that meeting, I asked a specific question, “Given that the county would not be able to build both the East Fayetteville Bypass (EFB) and the West Fayetteville Bypass (WFB) as there was not enough money to complete both, which project was most important to Fayette County?”

The various arguments were discussed. The cost of building the East Fayetteville Bypass was going to entail the purchase of an entire golf course and the crossing of a swamp that would require an elevated bridge system over the swamp over a mile long. The EFB would consume the lion’s share of the predicted tax collections and that would mean that many other worthy intersection improvement projects would not be completed.

What concerned me the most was the engineer’s comment that the population that would benefit the most was those people living in Clayton County and Spalding County. I asked him to explain the comment and learned that the EFB had little utility to the residents of Fayette County.

The engineer felt that the WFB had direct utility to all residents of Fayette County as it was centrally located in the county and the road would alleviate the congestion problem of Ga. Highway 85 in downtown Fayetteville.

The decision to proceed with the WFB was made after careful evaluation. Now it seems that there are those, including my opponent, who want to stop the WFB for what my opponent describes as a personal interest reason and who want to build the EFB. The irony of the “not in my back yard” position is not lost in his argument.

The other area of misinformation concerns the current BOC’s interest in bringing MARTA to Fayette County. As I indicated in my reelection announcement last week, there is no desire on the part of the current BOC to bring MARTA or any other type of bus system to Fayette County.

I cannot speak for any other commissioner other than myself. I can, however, unequivocally state that I have not had a conversation with any of the other commissioners in which there was any discussion that would lead a reasonable and rational observer to believe that bringing MARTA to Fayette County was desirable or wanted.

If I have not been clear in the past, please allow me to state, “I will fight against MARTA coming to Fayette County until hell freezes over, and then I will fight it out on the ice.”

If you want someone with a different position, then I suggest that you discuss bringing MARTA to Fayette County with my opponent.

Eric Maxwell

Fayetteville, Ga.