Unfortunately, for years, Cobb has not had the leadership and voters with the same courage and vision on transportation matters. The traffic problems of Cobb today are largely the results of the lack of leadership and decisions not made for these many years. None of us would be talking about TSPLOST projects and votes today if people had stepped forward over the past 40-plus years. For much of the time, Cobb leaders have either ignored or intentionally not made any decisions about transportation. Simply put: no vision and no courage.
During the eight years I served as Marietta’s mayor (2002-09), and during the years I served on many boards, I participated in, and/or reviewed, multiple transportation studies, plans, proposals and pipe dreams. I have been through multiple “alphabet soup” meetings: ARC, GRETA, GDOT, C of C, GMA, etc. I think I have seen the results of most, if not all, of the transit options: Bus Rapid Transit, toll lanes, HOV lanes, commuter rail, trolleys, heavy rail, light rail, more lanes, new roads, better interchanges, routes north and south and east and west — none of which are without problems.
I read with interest and agreement a Marietta Daily Journal guest commentary by Dick Hodges (Sept. 1). He was correct in so many ways. One of his comments concerns when MARTA was voted down in Cobb in the late 1960s. People can and do disagree on that issue and vote. However, if MARTA had come to Cobb, we would not have as much of the urban sprawl that we have today. Much of our denser commercial, office, and residential developments would now be concentrated along the transit lines instead of eating so much of our green space in all parts of Cobb.
No transportation decisions are going to give the “immediate gratification” that some people seem to demand. I am not supporting any transit proposal over the other, but I do know that the county needs to start now on transit solving for the future. These projects might not be completed in my lifetime, but that does not stop me from wanting us to make decisions now that will give the county the best future.
So any transit operation for the entire county would not be finished or fully funded in the next 10 years? No meaningful solutions will. Is this a reason to stick our heads in the sand like we have done for the past many years?
So transit fares would not make the system self-supporting and it would have to be taxpayer subsidized? I cannot think of any transportation in metro Atlanta that is not subsidized to some extent. The roads we use are not entirely funded by the gas tax; the sidewalks and bike trails are not paid by tolls from the people who use them; the Kennesaw Mountain Park trail that I, and so many people enjoy, is maintained by the National Park System using federal taxes; the Atlanta airport is not completely funded by user fees.
So only poor people and gangs would use public transit? I just had a daughter and her family to use transit to get to the airport. It was cheaper and faster than any alternatives. We all have business friends who use public transit in Atlanta for the same reasons. Public transit users also include people too young to drive and people too old to drive. I have many friends that will not, cannot and should not drive on I-75 to go to Atlanta to enjoy the many benefits that Atlanta offers like sports, the zoo, Olympic Park, the aquarium, etc. I will probably join that group in the years to come.
Human nature truth: many times, people and politicians find it more convenient to just be opposed to ideas without bothering to propose solutions. This TSPLOST proposal is the first viable alternative Cobb has had in years, and this opportunity will not likely occur again in the foreseeable future.
To paraphrase an old quote, “The hottest places in Hell are reserved for people who, in times of great problems, maintain their neutrality.” Our leaders and our citizens need to step forward and support solutions for our traffic problems.
I wonder whether 30 or 40 years from now the citizens of Cobb will look back on this TSPLOST proposal and thank our current leaders and voters — or whether the county, with lack of vision and courage, will still be inflicted with stagnation from the results of doing nothing.
William B. Dunaway served two terms as mayor of Marietta.