Lee moves BRT project to second SPLOST tier
by Asia Ashley
July 09, 2014 04:00 AM | 2387 views | 10 10 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tim Lee
Tim Lee
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MARIETTA — The proposed bus rapid transit project has been moved down on the priority list of projects in the county’s 2016 special purpose local option sales tax wish list, a decision made by Commission Chairman Tim Lee.

Lee also originated the idea of BRT, a bus transit line that would start in Acworth and continue south to the Midtown MARTA station.

Since the BRT proposal is now listed as a “Tier 2” project, it can only be funded if SPLOST generates revenue more than the budgeted $750 million, and would still require board approval.

“Tier 1” projects are the first to be funded with SPLOST money. An example on the county’s wish list of a “Tier 1” project is improvements to Windy Hill Road.

Lee said the primary reason for the change is that an environmental analysis will not be completed by the time commissioners are expected to vote July 22 on whether to put a 1 percent SPLOST, expected to collect $750 million over six years, before voters.

“I could not move forward without knowing it would stand,” said Lee. “I needed the people to feel comfortable with a list we can deliver.”

The environmental analysis is a study done to show the economic and environmental impact on the community, and federal authorities have to sign off on the document before the project can proceed. Lee said the documents probably won’t be approved until September.

Lee also said most of the community wanted the BRT project to have its own separate referendum, another factor contributing to his decision.

About $72.5 million of SPLOST would be used toward the $494 million transit system.

With hopes that the BRT will have its own referendum, Commissioner Helen Goreham supported Lee’s decision for the priority change.

“I think it’s an appropriate plan and timing, and it will likely not get funded in tier 2,” she said. “I think it should hold until 2016 so it can have its own referendum.”

Commissioner Joann Birrell is completely against the BRT project and including it in the SPLOST.

“I’m not 100 percent sold on the need of the BRT,” said Birrell. “I don’t think it will pass if it is on SPLOST.”

Commissioner Bob Ott is also opposed to the BRT.

“I do not support it,” he said. “It’s got a huge cost of operation and is being used more for economic development than transit relief.”

Commissioner Lisa Cupid says that there is a need for transportation, but doesn’t know if BRT is the way to go.

“There’s a need to better integrate a mass transit into Cobb,” Cupid said. “Whether (the BRT) is the most economical is unclear. I think the project needs to be massaged more through the public because it’s still pretty unclear.”

The county staff had originally began with a list of needs and projects totaling $1.2 billion for SPLOST, but were able to cut back the budget to $750 million.

The county will receive about $526 million, or 74 percent of the revenues, and about $39 million is budgeted for county-wide projects. The remaining $185 million will be divided among the six Cobb cities in relation to the city’s population within the county.

Comments
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JR in Mableton
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July 09, 2014
It's sad to see that the first comment is ignorant and the second comment is nothing but ad hominem nonsense.

To the issue of bus service, the BRT would be operated by CCT. We can argue about the merits of such a service, but please get your facts straight. Personally, I would like to see the entire SPLOST go to light rail connecting Cumberland to Perimeter and Arts Center. But I guess everyone enjoys sitting in their cars.

To the issue of trusting Lee or the board. Why can't you trust them? Do you have any specific lies, mistruths, deceit, falsehoods for any of them. The last time I checked the entire BOC was voted into office. At some point, we will realize that simply stating "this sucks" is not a solution to any problem.

BTW, I love the upgrades to Floyd Road....send more SPLOST projects to Mableton.

One more thing.....how many anti-SPLOST people can name the number of SPLOSTs Cobb County has approved in the last 30 years? You get bonus points if you know the years!! You get a double bonus if you know any of the projects....the point here is.....stop whining....we have all benefitted from the numerous SPLOST programs. How do you think property taxes have remained low????
D.G. in Clarkdale
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July 09, 2014
I'm a life long Cobb resident and I've seen leaders come and go, I stand by my assertion that Lee nor most of the board can be trusted. Anyone with a modicum of intelligence and a shred of integrity can see the way this county is being led is anything but above board. J.R., I suggest you pull your cranium out of your posterior.
Just Sayin'....
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July 09, 2014
I do not trust Chairman Lee's move of the BRT to Tier 2....plain and simple. Unless it is off the table completely he is endangering the entire SPLOST package. The voters are not going to fall for a bait and switch, which it appears this will become. i.e. Pass the SPLOST and find some reason to move it back to Tier 1. Tim Lee, and whoever else is pushing this, please be advised, the voters see this for what it is and you will not get any SPLOST as long as the BRT is attached.
HotinAtlanta
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July 09, 2014
I totally agree with both Be Careful and D.G. in Clarkdale. Tim Lee keeps wanting to spend our tax dollars without allowing us to vote on these things. We DO NOT need another bus service. Expand the CCT routes to cover more areas, including where Lee wants to new one to run. In order for most of us to even get to a bus stop, we have to drive there and park our cars. That's just stupid therefore, no one rides. Tim Lee is an idiot and the whole BOC needs to sent on their merry way - to the unemployment line!
the facts are
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July 09, 2014
If we, the people, fall for any renewal of any SPLOST, with or without BRT, Tier 1 or 2 or whatever, then we, the people are just plain stupid. Yes, there are valid needs on the proposed SPLOST project list, BUT much is just a keep up with the Jones list. I want, I want, I want. This SPLOST, any SPLOST, has become nothing more than a supplemental supply of money to balance an already shortfall in the general budget. We, the people, the voters of Cobb County, must send a resounding message to the BoC that we, the people/the taxpayers, are NOT their blank check OR their bank. It may be painful to live without these funds but we will survive. We always do. The question is, will the BoC get the message?
Be Careful
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July 09, 2014
Let's be real here.

He moved it down to tier 2 because he KNOWS people don't want it so it's it's tier 1 more people will vote against it.

Nobody ever answers this question, why do we need ANOTHER bus service in Cobb?

Yes, I said "another", because we already have CCT (which hardly anybody rides and has been a money pit the whole time it's been in operation) and GRTA operates an express bus service from Kennesaw State to the MARTA station.

Why waste all that money on a THIRD bus service??

If you fracture the ridership between 3 instead of 2, even fewer people will be on each service.
JR in Mableton
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July 09, 2014
You failed to mention that the GRTA express service is PACKED and has been a popular route for nearly 15 years.
Hmmmm.......
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July 09, 2014
It is indeed packed, but it also runs a deficit, so where does the red ink stop?
D.G. in Clarkdale
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July 09, 2014
SPLOST has done a great deal of good, but for Lee to hold needed improvements hostage to get his pet boondoggle project through is just wrong. His "shell game" move to tier 2 is way too obvious. BTW, the mass transit boat sailed 35 years ago. There is no way a Metro area as far flung as ours (10-counties, 20 for air quality purposes) can adequately construct a system around the development/ planning failures of 3 decades, without spending billions if not trillions of dollars. I don't know about you J.R., but I was raised to avoid even the appearance of impropriety growing up.... appears Lee missed the lesson.
D.G. in Clarkdale
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July 09, 2014
Remove BRT completely from the list, Lee can't be trusted and neither can most of the Board.
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