Hard as it is to tell from the emphasis of news reports, of the 12 state regions independently voting upon this three actually approved it and thus will have it. Thus regions focused on Augusta, Columbus — and Vidalia, of all places — are going to be in fine shape as far as improving roadways.
Why, they even get to continue paying only 10 percent in local money to get 90 percent funding from the state for other routine road work whereas Floyd County and other opponents will have to ante up 30 percent from now on just to land 70 percent even as currently existing revenues for transportation probably will dwindle. Plus they even get bonus local money for being smart enough to approve the TSPLOST.
Frankly, for those who voted in opposition and everybody else this all becomes a horribly complicated mess with no good solutions but some easy predictions.
For example, it now becomes unrealistic to expect a rescue by the tripling of the motor-fuels tax that should have occurred 20/30 years ago — as one local official pointed out it needs to go to 25 cents a gallon (from the current 7.5) just to equal the sales-tax revenues denied.
THAT MAY be political suicide to start with but with a huge swath of the state approving the penny tax there is zero chance politicians there will do anything but kill the notion of paying more such tax just to send every penny off to bail out Atlanta.
And, as few seem to realize, not only will the state have less road money to spread around (plus the federal portion is being reduced by 8 percent) but now Gov. Nathan Deal has veto power over every road project. That is the way all this was set up.
Frankly, all should be glad Deal is the one in the office. If former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who actually thought this system up, were still there it is probable every road chosen would run to a fishing hole, not a city.
However, Deal absolutely, to give the state any chance of untangling transportation, must pour most funds into the Atlanta metro where he is already on record as saying the Ga. 400-I-285 corridor must have the state’s top priority. The rest will have to go the Savannah area ... no sense in having a port if one can’t get the goods in and out. And deepening the ship channel is also a “transportation” project.
IF ANYTHING is left, one could hardly fault Deal as a politician if he sends it to the Gainesville area instead of Greater Rome. That’s his home base, after all — we’d expect the same favoritism from our representatives had they any sway and say at all, which they do not.
That is not to say Greater Rome will not get anything. The U.S. 411 Connector, for example, contains gobs of federal funding that the state is not likely to discard although this may further slow the creepy-crawly pace of the project. Similarly, the four-laning of Ga. 140 from Ga. 53 to U.S. 40/I-75 will likely happen — it is a short stretch, it is comparatively cheap ... and it was promised to a big new venture already on the scene. Same with whatever was pledged to the big Caterpillar operation coming to near Jackson.
What is really at risk is the ability of the state to lure anything new of a similar size from now on ... and make road promises in connection with such a wooing. What is the pitch going to be? If your workers are willing to pay a toll to get to your plant’s entrance, we will build you a road?
What a mess! And this is just a part of what will fill miles upon miles of column-width lanes in coming weeks/months with sentences all ending in question marks.
Bad as the politicians and bureaucrats can screw something up, never underestimate the power of a very small minority of voters to make it even worse.
MINORITY? Yes, the actual majority appears to have entirely given up on fixing anything and thus does not vote. Only 22 percent of Floyd Countians voted, for example, in trouncing the TSPLOST by better than a 2-to-1 margin. That means maybe 14/15 percent of local registered voters made this kill-it decision. And perhaps, figuring in eligible but not registered voters (sorry you cannot find your birth certificate), perhaps only 10 percent of those who would have been paying the added sales tax are on record as being opposed.
That, by the way, is roughly the percentage that this newspaper has pointed out in the past always votes “no” regarding anything up to and including building a landing pad for the Second Coming.
That wasn’t on the list of local transportation projects for the TSPLOST. With this kind of turnout it wouldn’t have mattered if it had been.