Saturday, August 13, 2011

Two More MARTA Columns

As the saga of the Metro Atlanta TSPLOST comes down to the wire, I figured it would appropriate to post the other columns I wrote as editor of The Johns Creek Herald.

Since I wrote these columns, things have changed.  Here's the project list as of a few days ago, the one the executive committee wasn't able to cut down to the proper size.

Now for some commentary, which might appear in a later column:

I'm rather leery of some of the transit projects not being fully funded.  Although the roundtable folk seem to think they'll be able to get matching funds from elsewhere (read: the federal government), given the financial problems in Washington these days, I don't think that money is coming.  It would be better to fully fund every project, even if that means reducing the total number of projects, rather than relying on outside help that may never come.

Especially foolish is providing only two-thirds of the Clifton Corridor cost.  The top end cost of extending MARTA to Emory University and the CDC, which would be a most worthy project, is $1.5 billion.  What good is half a rail line?  If they do it on the cheap, I fear they might simply create a rapid bus line instead of a heavy rail line.  Assuming they build a new road or lane rather than adding buses to the already-congested areas around Emory, buses would still need to be fueled, each bus would need drivers, and although I haven't used MARTA buses, based on what others have said I think they're slower than the trains and their service isn't as good.

And then there's the I-20 East extension in which they budgeted only one-third of the cost.  That's even worse, since there's no alternative to the trains in the area I can think of.

Although I know due to the context Jesus is talking about the cost of discipleship, I'm still reminded of the unfinished tower in Luke 14:28-30:

For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?  Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, `This man began to build, and was not able to finish.'

Luckily the list the executive committee puts together Monday (hopefully) isn't the end of the story.  When the list goes before the full roundtable, the officials can alter it as they see fit.  The final list isn't due until October.

On the bright side, maybe not budgeting all the money could provide an incentive to get things done under budget?  Just so long as it's not done shoddily, putting lives at risk...

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