Yes on public transport, no on Atlanta streetcar

I’ll admit to not having pored over the data about the alleged benefits of the Atlanta streetcar. To me, it seems like another bad idea for downtown aimed at our city’s favorite demographic — tourists.

How many Atlantans traverse between the King Center and Centennial Park? About as many who visit such downtown institutions as the Hard Rock Cafe and Hooter’s.

Is there any evidence the streetcar will alleviate traffic? Projections, maybe, but such estimations tend to be wildly optimistic. A claim that a streetcar will create “more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years” has already been debunked.

Hopefully I’m wrong, but, considering the recent history of downtown planning, you’d have to be naive not to be skeptical.



A sobering thought for anyone who cares about Atlanta:

An expert in land use and urban development, Leinberger outlined how metro Atlanta has fallen out of favor nationally as a business hub and is now competing with cities like Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Dallas, cities once overshadowed by Atlanta.

My hometown, competing with Orlando West, Romenyville and the city that houses George W. Bush’s presidential library? Next stop Birmingham, and we’ll get there sooner than you think if the tea party’s campaign to defeat the imperfect Transportation Investment Act is successful.

Streetcar skepticism

I understand the Atlanta streetcar is part of a broader transportation plan including the Beltline. Hopefully it all comes together. But I remain skeptical of the city’s promises, and its priorities.

The streetcar, which links Centennial Olympic Park to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site, is, like most everything else downtown, aimed at tourists. Remember when Shirley cracked down on panhandlers in the “tourist triangle?” Those who actually lived and worked downtown were left to fend for themselves in favor of conventioneers and SEC football fans.

PolitiFact recently debunked the claim a streetcar will create “more than 5,600 jobs over the next 20 years.” We’ll have to wait and see whether it revitalizes struggling downtown neighborhoods (though Edgewood is rebounding quite nicely without it).

That’s what they said when the new Olympic stadium was built. Fifteen years later, Summerhill is in worse shape than ever, though it does have a nice miniature golf course gathering dust, at taxpayer’s expense.

If only it was located in the tourist triangle.

Again, I hope I’m wrong. Unlike Fanplex, the streetcar project has some merit. How much remains to be seen.

Enduring Clusterfuck

Atlanta’s symbol should be a red light, our slogan: “Welcome to Atlanta, the anti-Germany.”

As in anti-efficiency. I was on the road much of the day, ostensibly driving. In reality I was sitting at traffic light after bloody (as in red) traffic light, dreaming of 100 uninterrupted yards of pavement.

The Georgia Department of Transportation, taking a break from the 5,000th repaving of the Downtown Connector, is reportedly “actively synchronizing traffic signalization along state routes in the metro area.” Could’ve fooled me.

GDOT even boasts of national recognition for its work in this area. Recognized by whom, the anti-synchronization lobby?

Atlanta also has an initiative to coordinate roads in the city — just like they had an initiative to fix all the potholes.

Perhaps it’s time to buy a bike.

Courtesy of Delta

Delta Air Lines is responding to a firestorm of criticism emerging from an incident on Monday in which a group of U.S. soldiers returning home from deployment in Afghanistan was charged $200 each for extra bags on a connecting flight to Atlanta. …

In the video posted on YouTube, O’Hair explained that his fourth bag was a weapons case for a grenade launcher, rifle and pistol.

Perhaps Nathan Deal will surprise us

He’s been shady but, judging by his inaugural speech, Nathan Deal may not be a total *Sonny after all.

“For violent and repeat offenders, we will make you pay for your crimes. For other offenders who want to change their lives, we will provide the opportunity to do so with Day Reporting Centers, Drug, DUI and Mental Health Courts and expanded probation and treatment options. As a State, we cannot afford to have so many of our citizens waste their lives because of addictions. It is draining our State Treasury and depleting our workforce…..”

Highway congestion, especially in the Greater Atlanta area is a deterrent to job growth in the region. If we do not solve this problem soon, we will lose the businesses who want to expand or locate in our State. I am dedicated to working with all elements of government to improve our transportation system and I call on all Georgians to join us. We must put aside some of the regional differences of the past and work for the common good of our State.

*Sonny: A corrupt, ineffectual governor

Obama ate my homework

Gov. H. Dumpty, who’s fattened his wallet but accomplished little else in two terms as Georgia’s chief executive, says President Obama is to blame for the state’s incoherent transportation policy.

Gov. Sonny Perdue’s office said he wasn’t responsible for any transportation shortcomings.

“It is clear the Obama administration has its operatives traveling the country in a last-ditch effort to try and find someone to blame for their failed policies,” Perdue spokesman Bert Brantley said. “While the blame game may be alive and well inside the Washington, D.C., Beltway, Georgia voters are smart enough to recognize a con job when they see it.

Next he’ll be blaming Obama if the fish don’t bite at the state-funded “Go Fish Center” being constructed down the road from Perdue’s Houston County home.

The good news? Georgia’s most ineffectual governor ever has only a few months left to, well, do nothing. Unfortunately, odds are good his replacement will be worse.

State neglect + MARTA mismanagement = bad news for working poor

MARTA could lose 66 of its 131 bus routes, or more than half. Bus routes could be dropped in some areas to make up for losses on other routes. Wait times for trains, which increased after last year’s modest budget cuts, could stretch to 30 minutes on weekends before 7 a.m. and after 9 p.m. Rush-hour train intervals could be 12 minutes.

The state is unlikely to help out, this time out of necessity. Georgia’s as broke as MARTA. But years of state neglect and internal mismanagement helped get us to this point.

I can’t help but wonder if MARTA still has 13 people working in its diversity office.

Obama to Atlanta: Drop dead

Atlanta’s slump continues:

In a blow to Atlanta’s hopes for a rebirth in transportation, the Obama administration has passed over the city’s application for a federal stimulus grant to build a streetcar on Peachtree Street.

In fact, in a two-page list of grant recipients including many in the Southeast, Georgia appears not to have a single project.

A Peachtree Streetcar would be cool, but would it solve any of the city’s transportation woes?

yet another clusterfuck

Decatur Street used to be a breeze, but that was before the city of Atlanta decided to mess up a good thing by eliminating lanes and installing awkward medians. And of course they failed to adjust the traffic signals, which rarely turn in unison (a problem throughout the city, especially on Piedmont).

“Smart growth” advocates laud the slimmed-down roadway, but they deal in theory, not fact. Because of them, Decatur Street has become yet another rush hour bottleneck.

As for those who claim the thoroughfare was a death trap for Georgia State students, maybe they should teach those students to obey traffic signals. Don’t walk means stay on the fucking sidewalk!

Even more annoying is the arrogance of “pedestrian advocates” who believe inconveniencing commuters is always good public policy. “If people want to commute by car, or feel like they have to commute by car, that’s their problem,” said PEDS director Sally Flock, who probably works out of her house.

I hold no ill will to bikers, but many of them have inherited a smugness that’s half past obnoxious. “Sharing the road” works both ways — or am I the only one annoyed by bicyclists who insist on pedaling down the middle of crowded streets.

I’d prefer mass transit alternatives, but there’s few presently available. Regardless, some of us working class types have jobs that require mobility. We shouldn’t be punished by bad city planning and people who wear uncomfortably snug spandex shorts.

not in their backyards

A DOT member from Rome is advocating a controversial tunnel project that would link Ga. 400 to I-675, digging up east Atlanta in the process. Another suburbanite, Gwinnett boob John Oxendine, also supports the idea.

The Ox is, sadly, the leading GOP contender for governor. East Atlantans wouldn’t consider voting for him, tunnel project or not, so what does he care if they’re pissed off?

Of course, if Oxendine wins, we’ll all want to leave Georgia anyway.

atlanta purposely slowing downtown traffic

And you thought it was already slow enough. Not according to city planners, which has adopted a *”road diet” strategy to make downtown’s streets more pedestrian-friendly.

*A modification of a road or street that narrows the road by removing travel lanes. Most commonly, a road diet involves the conversion of 4-lane street with a center turn lane to a 2-lane street with turn pockets, landscaped median, and on-street parking. The result, in general, is slower, more well-behaved car speeds with little or no reduction in traffic volume, greatly increased safety, improved street appearance, improved community pride, and a substantially improved environment for retail shops along the street.

Those who commute from east Atlanta and DeKalb to downtown have noticed the impact this strategy has had on Decatur Street, now plagued by bottlenecks and poor planning. Those difficult-to-navigate medians have been flattened, barely a month after they were erected. Guess who’s paying for that?

backwater, u.s.a.

Andisheh compiled a list of cities moving forward on mass transit. Thanks to the General Assembly, Atlanta continues to move backwards.

UPDATE: Republican House Majority Leader Jerry Keen tells Atlanta to go fuck itself.

After we spoke with lawmakers who attended last Wednesday’s sitdown with Gold Dome Republicans about helping MARTA avoid drastic budget cuts — a meeting during which one lawmaker allegedly said he “[lived] closer to Disney World than any MARTA station” and occasionally rode the metro region’s largest transit agency to “ball games” — we’re now able to report the elected official’s name.

State Rep. Jerry Keen, R-St. Simons. He’s also the House Majority Leader. Lobbyists this session showered him with everything from Cirque du Soleil tickets to a $303.60 dinner.

gone fishin’

Sonny will lead — as long as you ask nicely:

The governor mentioned several times that MARTA made no effort to get him involved in passing legislation that would have freed up funding for the system. The bill failed.

“It’s always unfortunate when people who depend on MARTA have their service cut, and I hope they (MARTA) can find a way …. to make it through the end of the year,” the governor said.