Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Georgia needs leadership for brain train

Great news report in the Atlanta Journal Constitution about a pair of forums on transportation policy. One of the major projects is rail service between Atlanta, Athens and Macon. The missing ingredient?

The elephant in the room at lunch (actually he wasn’t there) was Gov. Sonny Perdue. Not one person called on Perdue to take the leadership reins on transportation, although it was on the minds of many.

Will the governor come out with a transportation agenda that actually will address the issues facing metro Atlanta and the rest of the state? Will he show leadership and finally support funding mechanisms that would help pay for alternative modes of transportation, including rail?

If Perdue fails to lead, who will step in to move this state forward?

At both forums, there was consensus. Georgia needs to come up with new ways to pay for transportation projects that would fund all modes of travel. The state motor fuel tax is limited to roads and bridges, and those funds already have been spent in the Fast Forward plan and on maintenance of our existing system.

Shackelford reminded that the last time we raised our gas tax was in 1971 when it went from 6.5 cents a gallon to 7.5 cents a gallon.

“We haven’t had a dedicated source of revenue for rail,” Shackelford said, explaining why there’s been no progress in implementing the commuter rail study of 1991. “The lack of a source of operating revenues was the biggest obstacle we faced then, and it’s the greatest obstacle we face now.”

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

End of the line for big highway projects?

Here is a fine balanced report from New Hampshire concerning ambitious road programs which have, for whatever reason, never been built. There was a large public meeting, and guess what?

At Thursday night’s discussion, buses and trains cropped up nearly as often as cars; for example, when participants were asked to vote on how they would spend $20 million on road projects for the Nashua area, twice as many chose “implementation of passenger rail” as chose “another Merrimack River crossing.”

Discussion even touched on zoning and planning as a way to get people to live closer to their work so new roads wouldn’t be needed. When asked their opinion of the sentence “My community should revise its land use regulations . . . to relieve congestion,” two-thirds agreed or strongly agreed.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

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November 2007