$1.1B bus plan gives Cumberland CID official ‘chills’
by Jon Gillooly
September 28, 2012 02:21 AM | 4560 views | 26 26 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A rendering of the proposed bus rapid transit system.
A rendering of the proposed bus rapid transit system.
slideshow
CUMBERLAND — Following a Thursday presentation on the county’s proposed $1.1 billion KSU-Midtown bus system, the vice chairman of the Cumberland Community Improvement District said he was so pleased it gave him chills.

“The goal was to do this as professionally, completely, as transparently as possible, so there was just no question that it was done correctly,” said CID vice chairman John Shern, who led the meeting in chairman Tad Leithead’s absence. “This is where we’ve been trying to get for years and years and years. We’re done studying this stuff. This is it. Now let’s just go find the money and hopefully the (Cobb Board of Commissioners) is prepared to embrace it as well. I mean, this just gives me chills.”

However, it isn’t accurate to say the county is done studying the project because a $3 million environmental study of the project by Kimley — Horn & Associates won’t be complete for one to two years.

And the results of that study could alter the proposal, said Faye DiMassimo, the county’s transportation director.

The bus proposal is expected to cost $41 million per mile with a daily ridership forecast of 24,000, said Jim Croy, who spearheaded the $1.8 million Northwest Corridor Alternatives Analysis study that recommended the bus program.

The proposal is a two-part system.

One part, which would use express bus service, would begin with a bus station in Acworth on SR 92 near Interstate 75 and Cowan Road and head down I-75 utilizing Gov. Deal’s forthcoming managed lane project. Once inside the perimeter, it would utilize HOV lanes before exiting onto Northside Drive and then onto 17th street into Midtown. That route is only expected to have three stops, Croy said.

The other part of the program would use bus rapid transit, beginning at Kennesaw State University and head down U.S. 41. The plan is to build a dedicated bus lane down the center of 41, with 10 to 12 “grade separations” at key intersections, meaning the bus lane would be elevated over the key intersections so as not to affect traffic. Signal pre-emption, where specialized traffic signals recognize the oncoming bus and allow it to pass through, would be used at other intersections on down to Akers Mill Road, where the bus would access the HOV system by the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre and head down the HOV lane on I-75, Croy said.

The 41 route would have about 20 stations over its 25 miles, connecting with cities to universities along the way, he said.

“If you have stations, say, in the center of U.S. 41, you would either have protected crosswalks at signalized intersections or you would have elevated crossings — bridges — over to these center areas,” Croy said.

CID board member Mason Zimmerman, a senior vice president with Pope and Land Enterprises, asked what the bulk of the $1.1 billion cost would be.

“The infrastructure is the bulk of the cost,” DiMassimo said. “Those grade separations that you mentioned, the actual fixed guideway components, the vehicles themselves are about 6 percent of the cost. But it’s all the stations, maintenance depot, all those kinds of things that make it all work that are the bulk of the cost.”

Croy said the dedicated lane on U.S. 41 is the primary bulk of the infrastructure cost.

An alternative light rail line, by comparison, would be $3.7 billion, DiMassimo said.

CID board member Connie Engel, a partner with Childress Klein Properties, asked if the funding could be secured.

“If it’s $1.1 billion, that surely sounds better than $3.7 (billion),” Engel said. “So are we good about that, about our different ways of getting that?”

DiMassimo nodded.

“We do. But there’s still work to be done,” DiMassimo said.

The Journal asked DiMassimo after the meeting why she felt confident about the funding becoming available, since others, such as Commissioner Bob Ott, don’t believe it will. Her answer was that she believed federal officials like the project.

Malaika Rivers, the CID’s executive director, asked DiMassimo to design a pamphlet about the project because “somebody like Connie does get asked these questions all the time.”

Earlier this week, DiMassimo said the earliest the bus program could be operational, should everything fall into place and the county be able to secure the necessary funding, is 10 to 12 years.

Zimmerman said after the meeting he would need more information before deciding whether to support the project.

“I’m encouraged that the study appears to be thorough,” he said. “I’m encouraged they’re focusing on the locally preferred alterative, which appears to be the most cost-effective … I’m encouraged that the analysis is under way on capital and operations and efficiency, those are all encouraging, but I don’t know enough to be able to say this is my deal, because it’s not yet. I’m not a supporter and I’m not a detractor.”
Comments
(26)
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mk-agree lib, and..
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September 28, 2012
..there's more missing, than just traffic!

Where are the giant squawking chickens, the tire-lined amusement park parking lots, '50's era air strips and barracks, and, oh yeah, all the car dealerships, pawn shops, check cashing joints, mexican resturants and and latino lavanderia's?

The artist rendering must have thought Cobb Parkway was in Colorado.
Pat H
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September 29, 2012
You forgot the jumbo sidewalks, trailer parks and low end motels for extended "stays".
anonymous
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September 28, 2012
Until there is a regional plan to address not only downtown-destined traffic but crosstown traffic (Marietta-Alpharetta-Johns Creek/Norcross-Duluth) I'm not going to be interested. That's where all the good jobs in my industry are located.

If my only option was to work ITP I would move to a different State.
Samuel Adams
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October 04, 2012
These guys are getting a chill because they approve of a liberal plan to move the money from the suburbs to benefit the inner cities, the same as Obama talked about in his recently revealed 2007 campaign speech (the racist one where he talked with the fake accent about redistribution).

This is all part of the liberal war on the suburbs, and all talk about economic development is a sham. To really assist in economic development, you'd be tying together the affluent business nodes around the inner city, making it easier for the people to get to their productive jobs and growing the economy and easing traffic in the most congested EW corridors.
1st World Problems
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September 28, 2012
The problem is that not just in Cobb, but all across the metro Atlanta region the road networks were ill-planned to deal with future needs. Now we're at a point where improving the infrastructure can only do so much because homes and businesses have been allowed to be built so close to major thoroughfares. Fast-forward to today and there is now hardly any room to expand them (i.e. add more lanes). Don't believe me? Think about every time you ever got stuck behind a CCT bus letting people on or off because there was no room for it to pull over.

We can't make any new roads without demolishing a ton of structures (I'm actually all for this idea. Add all this to the fact that driver education in this state is extremely poor and we have this hellish traffic situation that we all deal with.
Call Me Crazy
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September 28, 2012
Shouldn't we look at other ideas such as altering work hours/days and give employers tax breaks if they participate? This country is full of people who like to spend other people's money! If people wanted to ride buses they would ride the buses we currently have operating. I drive around Cobb County all day and see a lot of half empty CCT buses. These half cocked ideas are proposed by individuals who will directly receive a financial benefit while the dumasses pay for it! Sound familiar TSPLOST proponents?!
Lib in Cobb
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September 28, 2012
The problem with the picture above. There is no bumper to bumper traffic. Does this plan eliminate all the cars, trucks and especially the rude drivers.
Watcher...
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September 28, 2012
I also thought that bureaucratic rendering was interesting.

I finally figured that this is what traffic will look like after four more years of Obama.
mk- ha-ha
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September 28, 2012
...made me laugh, insightful lib,.. that was funny!
Cobb Traveler
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September 28, 2012
Get real! Why not upgrade US 41 to limited access with HOV lanes so both busses and cars can benefit? For 1.1 billion you could do that and add basic bus shelters along the route. Everyone would benefit and support this. No one will back all that money spent on bus only lanes while leaving US 41 as the rundown eyesore it is today.
Watcher...
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September 28, 2012
"Everyone" would NOT benefit and support this monstrosity.
SG68
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September 28, 2012
Obviously the chill that Mr. Shern experienced migrated to his brain and froze it solid!!!!

This was a bad idea when the voters of Cobb County stomped on it the first time and it is a bad idea now.

What has changed that would cause Cobb County to continue wasting money and staff time tilting at theses windmills?

Come on people start spending your time on something that is realistic and useful.
anonymous
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September 28, 2012
"Chills..."

This comment reminds me of MSNBC's Chris Matthews' “thrill going up my leg” comment about Obama.

How is that comment working out for the United States?
Lib in Cobb
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September 28, 2012
@Anonymous: It's working out great, especially since Mittens is in a power dive relating to a vast majority of the polls and the GOP is getting more desperate by the day.

JUST GREAT, thanks for asking.
Jim Jones
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September 28, 2012
@lib in Cobb, please, have some more koolaide. We have plenty for you.
Watcher...
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September 28, 2012
Who is going to utilize this BOONDOGGLE?
The Hate
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September 28, 2012
Brigade is out again. THIS IS A STUDY, a proposed plan, no one had hit the green light yet - everyone get back to your basements! Community planning takes time and money. I would be curious for the people who comment on this story to propose another option. Then we can discuss that rather than name calling and MORE complaining. Bob Ott wants to turn Cobb County into a grid, like New York. Considering he doesn't want to fork over the money to study his plan, I am only assuming it must have been deemed stupid.

I appreciate people looking forward and cultivating our future here in Cobb. God knows you people will find ANYTHING to complain about.
TCW(The CobbWay)
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September 28, 2012
You are right. This is just a study and that's all it will ever be.

It is a study about a transit concept that has been roundly rejected by 70% of the voters in Cobb County.

Remember the TSPLOST?

Even if the federal funding magically materializes do you think the taxpayers in Cobb County are going to willingly subsidze a bus system to the tune of $5 to $6 million a year in perpetuity?

So what this is, is a monumental waste of time and money.

The commenters are not being hateful, they are just frustrated that our community leaders and elected officials totally disregard their unmistakeable opposition and reclessly continue forward with this idea.

Watcher...
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September 28, 2012
re: The Hate,

There is no hate here! We have a difference of opinion from the CID.

When was the Cumberland CID designated the Center of the Universe?

I would be very careful about calling Bob Ott stupid?
The Hate
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September 28, 2012
again.....no solutions. more complaining. this is local government. get out there and propose solutions and do something about your frustration! There is a public comment forum at every commission meeting.

and Watcher...(probably Bob Ott)

I didn't call Bob Ott (you) stupid - I called the idea stupid.

Liberals
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September 28, 2012
Liberals love name calling. The Hate Brigade? Please. Move back to Chicago.
TIC
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September 28, 2012
I am sure the chills that Mr. Shern commented on will fade as the reality of the funding situation comes into focus.

I am still amazed that they give any credence at all to Dimassimo's claim that federal funding is going to be forthcoming for this project.

Let's say it does happen. Then what?

Where is the funding going to come from to operate and maintain the system?

Was there anything in the presentation that spoke to those expenses?

Is the Cumberland CID going to foot that bill? I doubt it.

The way it looks now it will be the Cobb County taxpyaers that will be stuck with those ongoing costs. Just like the citizens of Fulton and Dekalb are stuck with MARTA operating deficits.

It's hard to discern the compelling reasons that Cobb County continues to pursue this idea when the voters in the county gave a clear message regarding their feelings by crushing the TSPLOST earlier this year.

It's going to take more than a "pamplet" to convince the taxpayers of Cobb County to support this boondoggle.
Hotinatlanta
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September 28, 2012
This is NOT the kind of thing we need to spend our tax money on. No one is going to benefit from this. In order to get to the stations, you will still have to drive & find a place to park so what's the point! Cobb County needs to spend our tax money on more important things like infrastructure improvements NOT ANOTHER BUS LINE!!!!! If Fulton County & the City of Atlanta does not put in their tax $$$ to fund this, neither should those of us who live in Cobby County.
Just Sayin'
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September 28, 2012
Memo to whomever: We don't have the money!!!
anonymous
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September 28, 2012
I'd get chills if I had someone else's credit card too. And then I would go to jail.

What's the difference here? These guys aren't elected officials and are not accountable, but Mr. Tax, Tim Lee, should be held accountable. Unfortunately, Mr. Tax can't go anywhere without his CID entourage these days and the clueless citizens voted him in for another term.
mk-bunch of BS!
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September 28, 2012
Boy these guys are just so full of themselves it's unreal!

I'd like to see Isakson & Chamblis catching a BUS to their swanky Galleria offices!

People just aren't going to drive to a BUS station, get on a BUS and ride to a BUS station in the city of Atlanta!.

They would then be stuck in midtown at the mercy of MARTA! Not much of a plan!!

Marta does not cover enough areas intown,just specific corridors,.. unless you then want to jump on yet another BUS to traverse the city!

Anyone whose riden the buses in Atlanta,.. wouldn't wish on my enemies!!

So guess you're just looking to get the cleaning people that work at the Woodruff Arts Center from their apartment in Acworth!

At 41 million a mile!

Why not just get a limo to their doorstep!!

Complete BS!

This is all about a retirement PLAN for DiMassimo & Croy Engineering, CW Matthews & Baldwin Paving!
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