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Lewyn Addresses America

A little politics, a little urbanism- I also blog 100 percent on urbanism at and

Today, metro Atlanta votes on a referendum on T-SPLOST, a one-cent sales tax increase targeted towards transportation (both roads and transit).  I don’t live in Atlanta any more, and can’t say that I have studied the T-SPLOST list of projects in enough detail to have a strong opinion about it.  However, I do have a couple of thoughts:

1.  Traffic congestion has been decreasing for some years; according to the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Study, the average Atlanta motorist lost only 43 hours per year to congestion in 2010, down from 58 in 2005.  So I’m not sure congestion is as strong an argument for doing building as it once was.  Moreover, there is ample evidence that transportation projects aren’t that successful in reducing congestion (Just google “induced traffic” for examples).

2.  On the other hand, if T-SPLOST is voted down I suspect that it will be not because Atlantans oppose transportation projects, but because people aren’t willing to pay taxes and/or can’t come to agreement on a package of projects.   The lesson will be that Atlantans are so gridlocked politically, and so afraid of being taken advantage of by each other, that they can’t get stuff done.   Moreover, if T-SPLOST is voted down I don’t think politicians will create a similar, better package in the future; instead, they will get the message that tax increases for infrastructure are radioactive, and they will do as little as possible.

If you were a business, would you rather locate in a place like that or a place like Charlotte or Houston where people can make compromises for the good of the region as a whole?


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