How regional T-SPLOST hurts Fayette, and what to do about it

Don Haddix's picture

This column will expand upon The Citizen, Sept. 13 article. As well it will cover a proposal for dealing with the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).

I will also be working on a more extended informational report to place on my web space on the Peachtree City website.

Sept. 24 I attended the Transportation Investment Act (HB277) Seminar at Lake Lanier with Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt. It reaffirmed my first column, what I heard at the GDOT meeting earlier and our shared opposition to this bill. There is nothing positive for us in this plan.

I have another meeting on the 27th, in Atlanta, which is too late to comment on in this column.

On the ARC website there is a wealth of information concerning the bill. It paints a very clear picture that if the bill was passed the current $6.7 billion collection estimate would only cover a fraction of the goals. So they admitted this was actually a 30-year tax, to which I say it is a never-ending tax.

They are also trying to allow for a growth of 3 million people while keeping the area high density urban with little outward expansion. To that I wonder, for instance, how do you accomplish that when Atlanta is already gridlocked from too much in too small an area? An even more critical question is where will they get the water?

The site also has maps illustrating goals to which we can add other proposals to build a “Big Picture.” One goal and map, already being pushed again, is the construction of an outer loop, beginning on the Northside. On the Southside there is a gap from the west terminal, ending at the Fulton County line, to the east terminal, ending in Fayetteville.

Another map shows bottleneck points. There are none in Fayette County with one showing on Interstate 85 that has an association with Fayette. That is the Ga. Highway 74/I-85 junction to which Fulton contributes in a major way with the heavy truck and residential traffic going to Fairburn and the commercial area at the intersection going towards Fayette, along with some Fulton residential traffic.

There is also a lot of Coweta-bound traffic, which can be relieved by widening Fischer Road to I-85. For Coweta commuters it is either I-85 though Newnan, Hwy. 74 off I-85 into Fayette through Peachtree City, or cutting through Tyrone to Hwy. 74 and then through Peachtree City.

Other proposals have buses coming to Peachtree City. This year council removed the commuter rail station from the Peachtree City portion of the County Transportation Plan. But there is still rail in the county portion.

There was also a split grade Hwy. 74/54 intersection we removed as well.

Another map shows city bypasses. The Fayetteville Bypasses are included. The Fayetteville West Bypass was designed for Fayetteville. It is not the Mid-Fayette County By-Pass as some wish to call it after canceling the Fayetteville East Bypass.

Put the puzzle pieces together: Outer Loop terminal, Hwy. 85 north and south, Hwy. 54 to Peachtree City, Hwy. 74, West Bypass, split grade intersection, buses, etc., and you see Fayette becomes a complex interchange in an inter-modal transportation system. That means the end of Fayette being a rural-setting county and the way of life we know.

Can we just opt out of the whole thing? No, it is a regional, not a county, vote. So whatever passes regionally we are a part of, cost and otherwise.

To get a good idea of the tax cost to Fayette the 2004 SPLOST projected $115,857,267 total income to the county for five years, or $23,171,453 per year.

The TSPLOST projects $4,606,275 per year [to Fayette]. The tax is 1 cent in both but the difference is over $18.5 million a year, which mainly contributes to the big counties north of Clayton County.

As well under the proposed 2009 SPLOST, Peachtree City would have gotten about $3.3 million a year, but under the TSPLOST $1 million.

Does this plan have a chance of passing? Yes. If the criterion gets 11 votes in November five of the 21 members are chosen to work with the state authorities, along with numerous “advisors” who are almost, if not all, pro [mass] transit. That on top of the plan having been developed by pro transit entities.

After they finish their work the final criterion will be brought back to the Roundtable where, next year, it will be voted upon to deny or put before the voters in 2012.

We cannot add anything local to it. What the state director submits is the project list from which we have to chose all, some or none. Currently golf cart paths do not meet the criterion. If we don’t pass it, we are heavily penalized.

If it reaches the voter stage, then it most likely will pass. In example Fayette County has about 2.64 percent of the ARC population and is 9th out of 10th for the lowest, with a little over 100,000 people. Fulton, on the other hand, has over 1.1 million people.

The perimeter, or “suburban,” counties are far outnumbered. Those are where the population is most opposed to this bill.

So, what can we do? Leave ARC and return to the Three River Regional Commission.

Get into a region that is more like Fayette, does not have rail, bus and other items Atlanta wants but we oppose.

Work with them on development projects and plans that fit our desires and our region instead of everything being Atlanta-focused all the time.

Move from the failed Old Growth Model to Smart Growth.

Are we alone in considering this? No, in sidebar conversations some other counties are also thinking about it. So Three Rivers could become a potent force if Fayette and some others join forces with those already in Three Rivers to plan for our mutual future.

The Core Counties within I-285 have common problems and shared visions they need to solve. But they are not our vision or problems. As a city we have much more in common with Newnan and Griffin, in example, than we do with Atlanta.

It is time to move.

[Don Haddix was elected mayor of Peachtree City in 2009. Previously, he had served two years as a council member. His email is dhaddix@peachtree-city.org.]

CW
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ARC and Three Rivers Commission

I have been involved in some transportation issues before. Fayette co. and its cities could look into how Spalding Co. is represented at ARC as it relates to transportation issues. I believe Spalding has a planner from Three Rivers Comm. who works with ARC and handles all of their issues and this is all the planner does. If we move back to McTrail or Three Rivers, we could do this too. All worries over.

bad_ptc
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Not our vision or problems?

“The Core Counties within I-285 have common problems and shared visions they need to solve. But they are not our vision or problems. As a city we have much more in common with Newnan and Griffin, in example, than we do with Atlanta.”

Tell me Mr. Mayor, are you accusing Fayette Chairman Smith and Fayetteville Mayor Steele of intentionally lying when they said, “60 percent of Fayette residents commute into Atlanta each workday”?

What percentage of your citizens and those of Tyrone Mayor Don Rehwaldt will it take to convince you two that transportation options from Fayette County to Atlanta is indeed YOUR PROBLEM as it directly effects YOUR CITIZENS!

As per citydata.com, Peachtree City:
Estimated median household income in 2008: $87,022 (it was $76,458 in 2000)
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $305,888 (it was $189,800 in 2000)

Tell us Mr. Mayor, just how many of PTC’s retail and industrial jobs pay a salary anywhere close to that figure?

How many teachers, fireman, police officers or city employees can afford to actually own a home, shop, and feed and clothe their kids here without a substantial money earner?

PTC currently has an opening for a police officer that pays $35,367 / year (certified). Do you think they could qualify for a $305,888 mortgage?

“Put the puzzle pieces together: Outer Loop terminal, Hwy. 85 north and south, Hwy. 54 to Peachtree City, Hwy. 74, West Bypass, split grade intersection, buses, etc., and you see Fayette becomes a complex interchange in an inter-modal transportation system. That means the end of Fayette being a rural-setting county and the way of life we know.”

Isn’t that exactly what is needed if PTC is ever going to grow the industrial area of our city?

It’s called growing and keeping up with demand. It you don’t you die.

If you continue with your efforts to have PTC become a retirement community than where will the tax money come from?

Face the facts Mr. Mayor, the days of horse-and-buggy’s are over.

How do you plan on attracting major, high paying employers to PTC if they have to ride a horse or electric golf cart to get here?

Is more retail your answer?

The Dawg
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Hey Bad

You said: "Tell me Mr. Mayor, are you accusing Fayette Chairman Smith and Fayetteville Mayor Steele of intentionally lying when they said, “60 percent of Fayette residents commute into Atlanta each workday”?

Do you ever ask yourself why we choose to live here and commute? Maybe we don't want to live in an Atlanta type environment? Yet you seem to scream for it. Why don't you move instead?

You also said:"How do you plan on attracting major, high paying employers to PTC if they have to ride a horse or electric golf cart to get here?"

I think high paid people can afford a car. Most of us are here because we like it here. We commute because we choose to commute. Don't attempt to change things just to suit you and a few of your friends. If you want public transportation then move to a place that has it.

bad_ptc
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The Dawg: here are your answers

Short answer:
I don’t bury my head in the sand and hope things will just go away and I don’t live in the past.

Long answer:
I chose to live here primarily because of the school system some 20+ years ago. At that time my commute was painless.

"Do you ever ask yourself why we choose to live here and commute?"

Yes, but things have changed since then. What used to be a 25-30 minute drive to the airport has now turned into 45-50 minute. What used to be a 40 minute commute to the office has now turned into an hour or more. Traffic on I-85 southbound is now a parking lot from Union City to Hwy. 74 on any given afternoon.

Mayor Haddix tries to blame Fairburn for all the traffic at the Hwy. 74/I-85 interchange because of all of the development that has chosen to locate there.

What he totally fails to grasp is that businesses decided to locate there partly because of the access to the interstate system.

Mayor Haddix has turned blue holding his breath and had a hissy fit because the $150,000 DAPC budget wasn't passed. The reason the rest of the council didn't pass the budget was because they were seeing little if any return on investment and didn't want to let the authority run wild with $150,000 of our money.

One of the main reasons that the DAPC has been ineffective is because it's hard, if not impossible, to attract high paying employers into PTC because of the limited access to this place.

The fact that people have cars is negated if they have to sit in them while in a 1 or 2 miles of parking lot on Hwy. 74.

What surprises me the most about Mayor Haddix’s stance on mass transit is he hasn’t used the “those people” argument.

Mayor Haddix has in the past associated mass transit with an increase in crime. Yet there is absolutely NO proof that mass transit brings crime into an area. There have been several major studies published on the subject and they all conclude that there are no direct correlations to mass transit and crime.

As a matter of fact, the real-estate prices in places like Maryland and Virginia have skyrocketed because of their proximity to mass transit. Local businesses and office parks in those areas are thriving because of mass transit.

Yes mass transit projects cost money, lots of it, and they almost never pay for themselves. Neither do streets. Do you know what the improvements to Hwy. 74 from Crosstown Drive to Hwy. 85 are costing? Try something like $31,054,285.71-4.757 miles for phase one and $21,225,744.84-3.30 miles for phase two. That’s a total of $52,280,029 for 8.057 miles of road. Tell me you don’t think that’s expensive?

BTW, Fayette County and PTC didn’t pay for all of that. As a matter of fact the good people of Idaho and New York helped with the tab, as did the good people of Atlanta. What direct benefits do you think their getting from their investment?

Bottom line is you either grow or you die. Pick one.

The Dawg
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Bad, Yes but..

If you're trying to turn PTC into a mini Atlanta then your arguments are valid. But I don't think that you realize that many of us are here because we don't want to live in a mini Atlanta. You yourself stated that mass transit is a money loser and the difference has to be made up in taxes. People here will not use mass transit. So my question still stands. If you don't like it here why not move to a place that is more to your liking? Thats what I'd do. As for your bottom line Growth does not have to mean mass transit.

Spyglass
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Excellent points, what say you Mr. Haddix?

Let's hear it. You're quick to comment about MANY things on these blogs.

NUK_1
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Bad: well, Haddix doesn't like retail.....

...so, add it to the list of things Don Haddix really doesn't like and is totally against. Maybe in a few years we will know what he is actually FOR except for freezing history.

You have the whole transportaion/traffic nailed and so I have nothing to add to that except "well done."

PTC Observer
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Nuk_1 and Haddix

I think everyone here is missing the point of all this, it's called competition. The Mayor doesn't want to belong to ARC because he knows that the regional SPLOST is highly likely to pass. If that happens, his hopes to convince local voters of the wisdom of a Fayette SPLOST goes down the drain. The fact is our citizens are tired of these taxes and the abuse they create. The State Legislature has corrupted the whole concept of "Local" by allowing these regional taxes.

bad_ptc
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NUK_1: No reply from Haddix

I did notice Mayor Haddix has responded to some other comments but he won’t come anywhere near mine. Go figure.

It seems you and I are on the same page as far as who's actually paying for PTC and what it will take for us to continue to do so.

If Mayor Haddix doesn't attempt to fix the transportation problems PTC faces now it will be just as bad, if not worse, as previous administrations not facing the budget problems of their administrations.

Someone is going to have to pay sooner or later. It appears Mayor Haddix is banking on the 'later' option.

It looks like Mayor Haddix is trying to creating a legacy similar to the one left by our last administration.

NUK_1
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bad_ptc

"It looks like Mayor Haddix is trying to creating a legacy similar to the one left by our last administration."

...and the administration before that too. Between this issue, industry, and the financial state of affairs of PTC, the city has taken some black eyes and bruised ribs the past several years.

To some, all of the above is ideal because it turns PTC/FC into a retirement community, except they forget that someone magically has to pay for all the services. A lot of those "someones" are commuters who have watched numerous traffic lights go up on 74, Fairburn and Coweta going through huge growth spurts, and gridlock increasing year after year. What you used to be a not-so-painful commute for people in FC has turned into such a nightmare at times that PTC isn't as desirable of a location to live as before. It doesn't matter how great PTC is if you are spending all of your time away from it stuck in your car.

What's discouraging is all of the closed minds and knee-jerk reactions to even THINKING about transportation. The first thoughts in some minds is MARTA, CRIME, BLACKS, URBAN, ATLANTA and they don't want to hear about anything else. That's myopic. We are stuck with a Mayor who has that mentality too.

Steve Brown set the tone of PTC being anti-business as possible, Logsdon kind of mucked around and never seemed interested in actually being Mayor, and now Haddix is bringing the anti-everything in spades.

Salvo10
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Question

How many counties and which ones are they. Thta should make it easier to try and defeat if we know who we're talking about.
Thanks

Don Haddix
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Haddix: Counties

Fulton, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Cobb (these 4 have about 75% of the population), Clayton, Cherokee, Douglas, Rockdale, Henry and Fayette. Ten total, with the County Chair and one Mayor from each plus the Atlanta Mayor totaling 10 Chairs and 11 Mayors. First 5 are Core Counties and last 5 the Suburban counties. On the poll the Core voters passed it and the 5 Suburban rejected. On that split it passes.

Spyglass
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Don, how long have you studied this?

I mean REALLY studied it? You haven't been Mayor long. I know you haven't been on this Commission long either.

Do you really think after 1 or 2 meetings, you have a full grasp of the situation and how Fayette is involved?

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