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Plan B is a speculative question if TSPLOST fails

7:22 PM, Jul 9, 2012   |    comments
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Georgia State Capitol

ATLANTA, Ga. -- If voters don't approve the TSPLOST on July 31, many people are asking: What would Plan B look like? Would it have more mass transit? Or would it have more asphalt?

More than half of the TSPLOST is devoted to public transit-- MARTA, and other projects. Yet there isn't enough mass transit, says the Georgia chapter of the Sierra Club-- which is opposing the TSPLOST, and hoping for a Plan B with more mass transit.

"You can't pave your way out of traffic congestion," said executive director Colleen Kiernan. "The best that you can do is offer people another way to get from point A to point B."

Yet Plan B would come out of the state Capitol, a place firmly in control of Republicans rooted in suburban Atlanta and beyond. In that world, transportation is about highways and automobiles.

"Fifty two percent of this list (in TSPLOST) goes to transit projects, which we know are not going to solve the congestion problem," said Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) at a news conference Monday.

Rogers, the Senate majority leader and a TSPLOST opponent, says Plan B needs to be about roads and not mass transit. Rogers says the legislature can authorize another referendum on a one cent sales tax for transportation in two years.

And Jim Stokes, another transit backer who supports the TSPLOST, says Plan B would very likely include much less transit.

"There will be a less receptive legislature" for a Plan B laden with transit projects, said Stokes. "I think it'll be a matter of people not rallying around the transit community as much."

For Stokes and others, the question is not what Plan B would look like, but whether there would be a Plan B at all. Two years from now, the governor and other statewide offices will be on the ballot. They may not want to be part of another TSPLOST vote.

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