Haddix omits crucial facts on TSPLOST

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As I read my friend Mayor Don Haddix’s response to my letter to the editor, it reminded me of a line from “Cool Hand Luke”: “What we have here, is a failure to communicate.”

Mayor Haddix wrote that the Ga. Highway 74/I-85 intersection “isn’t even a TSPLOST project any more” and the project “is going to happen whether the TSPLOST passes or not.”

While Mayor Haddix is partially correct, “a failure to communicate” all the facts to the voters about the Hwy. 74/I-85 intersection improvements and other TSPLOST projects can be misleading.

The Hwy. 74/I-85 intersection is project number TIA-FS-008. (TIA means “Transportation Investment Act” which is synonymous with the regional TSPLOST.) According to official public documents, “The total cost of the project is $22,500,000, of which $11,250,000 will be funded under TIA and the remaining $11,250,000 covered by traditional federal formula funds.”

So the Hwy. 74/I-85 project is a TSPOST project because it uses both regional TIA and federal funds.

These documents also say that construction on the Hwy. 74/I-85 project is likely to occur in the 2016-2019 timeframe (page 109 of TIA project “Fact Sheets” at http://atlantaregionalroundtable.com/ ). I think that’s pretty clear communications.

Mayor Haddix is correct, to a point, when he said the Hwy. 74/I-85 project “is going to happen whether the TSPLOST passes or not.” What he didn’t say was “when” it was going to happen.

The mayor is referencing metro Atlanta’s “Plan 2040 Regional Transportation Plan” that says the Hwy. 74/I-85 intersection is also project FS-AR-182. Plan 2040 says that purchase of right of way and construction for the Hwy. 74/I-85 project are likely to occur in the 2018-2030 timeframe (page 185 of http://atlantaregional.com/plan2040).

So if the voters approve the transportation referendum on July 31, the Hwy. 74/I-85 intersection may be completed even before it becomes eligible for right of way funding under the existing transportation plan.

Otherwise the Hwy. 74/I-85 project might not be built for another 15 years without additional state and/or local funding sources.

All the debate on the Hwy. 74/I-85 intersection and other regional projects may be an attempt by some to divert attention away from a discussion of what projects haven’t been chosen yet … those projects closest to home; those in our neighborhoods.

If the July referendum passes, Mayor Haddix’s constituents in Peachtree City will receive more than $10 million over the next decade for any transportation project they want; anything.

Every city and unincorporated area of Fayette County is estimated to receive over $4 million annually in unrestricted funds for any transportation project they want.

Other communities throughout the metro Atlanta region, like Cobb County, Decatur, Henry County, north Fulton cities, etc., are already working with their citizens to decide what projects they want built in their neighborhoods if the referendum passes.

That might be a good exercise for Fayette County citizens to consider too.

Fayette voters need to know what and when regional projects will be built with their tax dollars. And Fayette voters also need to know what and when local projects will be build with their tax dollars too.

I agree with Mayor Haddix that “misdirection and sleight of hand gimmicks are not appreciated.” That is why any “failure to communicate” ALL the facts about the July 31 referendum should not be appreciated either.

Terry Lawler

Executive Director

Regional Business Coalition of Metro Atlanta