Setzler wants the legislators to review the TSPLOST project list at a meeting today, a very good idea since the list was put together by a regional committee that included Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee and Kennesaw Mayor Mark Matthews. Judging from the results, there was no input from the people at large.
The latest cost estimate for this rail line is $857 million for Cobb's portion - which gobbles up most of the total $1.1 billion for projects in the county. It comes out to $4,000 a year for each household in Cobb County, as Setzler points out.
"Four thousand dollars just to construct it, and it services Cumberland Mall?" Setzler said. "Five percent of the people in Cobb County might be able to use that as a transit tool, but every household's going to pay $4,000 just to build it?"
Then there's the little item of operating costs, pegged at nearly $10 million a year. All of this to move maybe 5 percent of the people in Cobb to the Arts Center MARTA station, not enough to justify the cost of the project, Setzler says. So he wants voters to understand what they will be voting on in next year's referendum.
His idea is a good one, first meeting with the legislative delegation and then he might set up some public forums or town hall meetings across the county. People need an impartial source of information in addition to the "educational" material being put out by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and the looming pro-TSPLOST campaign by the Cumberland Mall and Town Center improvement districts to sell the new 1 percent sales tax to the voters.
It would take 15 years to plan and construct the rail line. How much congestion relief could be achieved within a few years by strategically planned highway widening and improvement projects? And it would take another 15 years to extend the line to Acworth, per the proposal.
The major beneficiaries of the rail line would be developers, retailers and people living in the Cumberland Mall-Galleria area and the people that might commute to the station for a ride to Atlanta and connections to somewhere else.
It's possible to change the TSPLOST project list for Cobb since the deadline for the final list is Oct. 13. Rep. Setzler says the TSPLOST concept "created a process whereby the region could vote down the project list or accept the project list or change the project list for a reason, so that good projects and only good projects would ever be put on the ballot."
It's up to Cobb voters to get involved in this process and come up with a better list of projects.