There seems to be a movement afoot to demonize the need for any technical studies here at Cobb County. Recently, Larry Savage spoke to the Board of Commissioners on numerous occasions on the appropriateness of the Johnson Ferry Road Study.
I’m sure that through the years there have been some excellent studies performed and some that didn’t quite hit the mark. With the economy still struggling, it is paramount that this board remain fiscally conservative. All the more reason for this Board of Commissioners to have a broad vision and actionable plan to address future Cobb County transportation needs.
In 2015, the present county transportation SPLOST comes to an end and so do the local resurfacing programs, bridge replacements and roadway improvements. Cobb DOT relies on federal, state and grant funding to pay for 90 percent of its budget. Some say that this funding should be allocated in the county’s General Fund but most citizens would not appreciate the millage rate increase that would have to accompany it.
The SPLOST projects that you see taking place today are a result of those funding partnerships. Some notable examples are the Paces Ferry/Akers Mill improvements, Floyd Road improvements and the Skip Spann Connector.
Because the County had a Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP), and a local funding source in place (SPLOST), we could successfully compete for other available monies.
The County is now required to update the CTP to be eligible and competitive for alternate funding opportunities and partnerships. Most importantly, in 2015 the county needs to secure a local funding mechanism so that we continue to take advantage of alternate funding opportunities.
With the failure of the regional TIA (T-SPLOST) and the narrow passage of the 2011 Cobb County SPLOST by only 79 votes, that route is not so clear. From the failure of the TIA it became apparent that the public did not like the public-input process, did not like the prioritization of projects and did not approve of the funding mechanism.
In an attempt to create a more actionable and implementable CTP, and to create a pathway for a future county roadwork funding mechanism, keeping in mind the shortfalls of the TIA, a supplemental agreement to the CTP was proposed to the Board of Commissioners. This was voted down by the Board on Tuesday.
The supplemental agreement would have addressed the need for a larger and more representative sampling of citizen input, specifically addressing which transportation projects they feel are necessary and how they would like to pay for those projects, which in turn would have required more technology, more analysis and more associated cost.
The future benefits of this study would have outweighed presents costs.
This appears to be an opportunity lost for this board to obtain a planning tool that would have allowed for smarter decisions in the future.
District 1 (northwest Cobb)
Cobb Board of Commissioners