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Cobb Officials Want TSPLOST for Toll Lanes

Commission chairman Tim Lee desires to drop transit from the county's project list for I-75/I-575 congestion relief.

Top Cobb officials announced Tuesday they want to "significantly" redirect potential TSPLOST funding for a proposed light rail station in the Cumberland area and construct reversible toll lanes in the Interstate 75/575 corridor. 

The proposal by Cobb Commission Chairman Tim Lee, Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews, members of the Cobb legislative delegation and officials with the Atlanta Regional Roundtable backing next summer's TSPLOST effort comes a month after the Georgia Department of Transportation dropped plans for reversible lanes at the behest of Gov. Nathan Deal. 

Deal said he was uncomfortable that a private company would be managing the $1 billion toll lane system, which includes 18 miles along I-75 in Cobb and 11 miles of I-575 in Cherokee. 

Should Cobb drop light rail TSPLOST funding for I-75 toll lanes?

Voters in 10 metro Atlanta counties, including Cobb, will vote next summer on the penny TSPLOST tax that would fund an estimated $6.2 billion in transportation initiatives. 

Of the nearly $1 million that would be earmarked for Cobb, $689 million is designated on the project list for the Cumberland light rail plan, supported by Lee but opposed by other Cobb elected officials. 

The Cobb alternative unveiled Tuesday calls for most of the light rail funding -- should the TSPLOST pass -- to be used for the toll lanes instead.

"We would never have focused on the transit piece if we had known that the I-75/575 project was in jeopardy," Lee said. "The suspension of the I-75/575 project by the state is a substantial and material change caused by the state after the project list process ended. The state should afford us the opportunity to fix that in this list.”

But changing the TSPLOST project list now requires a change in state law, which Georgia House Speaker David Ralston has said he's wary of doing. 

After hearing remarks from State Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Cherokee) at Tuesday's press conference at the Capitol, the AJC's Jim Galloway concluded that "what we may be seeing is a very public, politely worded message to Deal: Please find the funding for those new lanes up I-75, or Cobb may sink the T-SPLOST for the whole metro area."

Mike January 25, 2012 at 04:42 PM
This cannot be serious. So they want to take tax money to charge taxpayers to use the roads? MARTA should simply be extended to the Cobb/Galleria. It would make the area more attractive to businesses as the area could be reached by train from the airport for conventions etc. For those concerned about "crime" just ride the Red line which is what we would mimic. I am 100% opposed to any toll roads. I pay them in the NorthEast and in Florida and the roads are still bad so I have no idea where the toll money goes. More roads, toll roads to do ease traffic long term, just short term at best. With 2 million more people projected to move here in the next couple of decades do they think more roads is what is going to work?
Amy January 25, 2012 at 05:36 PM
Are they just perpetrating an underhanded scheme to kill tsplost support in Cobb with each new proposal less valuable than the one before?
Brian January 31, 2012 at 08:43 AM
NO. I absolutely do NOT want my tax dollars going to something that will tie up an otherwise general-purpose lane that was publically funded for tolls UNLESS it also includes 2-person carpools. The Gwinnett County toll lane is problematic because it requires 3 people per carpool. Yet 2-person carpools can take up to 1/2 the cars off the road. I would much rather be able to drive to the Cumberland mall, do some shopping, hop on a light rail train and then continue shopping at Town Center without having to get back into my car until I'm done. Additionally, with light rail all the way from Arts Center to Town Center someday, our business of 300 people would definately consider relocating to Cobb County. It's the lack of rail for our sales people and execs going to and from the airport between offices that keeps us tied to the Peachtree corridor. Toll for 1 car is fine, but unless it's still allowing 2-person carpool then it's unacceptable. And no, don't use T-splost money for it. Have the toll lane fund itself. Let's be honest, there will still be plenty of impatient people by themselves in their Maserasiti's that will hop onto the toll lane. Allowing 2-person carpools will not take away any revenue.
Brian January 31, 2012 at 08:46 AM
By the way, I think there should be additional ways to argue against an individual project once funding is found. The separated grade for Windy Hill at Cobb Parkway is unacceptable for the area because it will destroy the urban character. I'm considering voting against T-Splost just for that one project if funding will cause groundbreaking on it.

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