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3-18-04 GA 316 Will Not Magically Improve Itself – Somebody Has to Pay For It!

GA 316 will not improve magically without some effort and money.  Anybody telling us differently is just ignoring and exacerbating the problem

Using Local Property Tax is Not Answer

AVOC Article


March 14, 2004


Many opinions and much press on GA 316


By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.  (Another Voice Oconee County)


There is a lot of press and many opinions on GA 316.  Some elected officials have even taken out their “campaign swords” to slay the “Toll Dragon”.


Tolls are not the main issue.  Upgrading and funding the cost on GA 316 is the issue.  Some communities along the route are worried that tolls will drive more traffic onto side roads and create traffic problems for their areas.   On the other hand, if gridlock and wrecks overwhelm the road, there will be traffic nightmares on all of the side roads.   As one drives to Atlanta, one can see the lack of vision and planning by past governmental leaders in letting two-land roads become crowded with development and almost impassable.


The AJC article below shows the thinking of some on future transportation funding.   We have elected officials who profess to want lower taxes and less government yet oppose tolls and increased gas tax which are basically user fees. 


GA 316 will not improve magically without some effort and money.  Anybody telling us differently is just ignoring and exacerbating the problem




3-18-04 Rep Smith, GA 316 & Property Tax


AVOC COMMENT: Representative Bob Smith, according to a March 18, 2004 story in the Athens Banner-Herald, has sponsored a measure that has passed the Georgia House that would use local property taxes along GA 316 to pay for the upgrade.


In the article, Rep Smith says it is not a tax increase! HOGWASH!  If it sounds like a duck, walks like a duck……..    This is just another symptom of Atlanta Fever.   Atlanta seems to know best and mandates back to the locals to fund on the backs of property taxpayers.   For those owning property within a mile or two of GA 316, there is cause for concern.


Wendell Dawson, Editor

See A B-H Article at: http://www.onlineathens.com/stories/031804/gen_20040318077.shtml



……..measure would create a tax allocation district along Ga. 316 in Oconee, Barrow and Gwinnett counties.
   In such districts, property taxes paid by landowners are dedicated to economic development projects, said state Rep. Bob Smith, R-Watkinsville, the legislation's sponsor.

   In the case of Ga. 316, the tax money would go toward the planned $ billion upgrade of the highway with interstate-style interchanges, paid for with construction bonds retired with revenue collected from tolls paid by motorists who use the highway.


  ''This is not a tax increase,'' Smith said. ''All it does is take the (property) taxes the counties currently collect ... and allocate a certain percentage toward paying the bonds down on the highway.''Smith and some county officials have argued that many motorists would take another route rather than pay a projected toll of up to $.60 for a one-way trip along the 43-mile highway.


   ''This is one more means of financing the highway,'' Smith said.  ……….



See Related Articles and Links Below


The Athens Banner-Herald



February 12, 2004                                 FORUM


Toll of ignoring Ga. 316 will be more than change

By Brian Brodrick  -----
Brodrick is a Watkinsville city councilman and commutes to Atlanta two days per week


   When it comes to the future of Georgia Highway 316, residents of Barrow, Clarke, Gwinnett and Oconee counties have a choice: speed and safety vs. congestion and carnage.


   The upgrade of Highway 316 is the single most important economic……….. A reliable, direct route to Atlanta is critical for Northeast Georgia to lure clean industry and high-paying jobs.

   Without tolls or another new revenue source, University Parkway may not be upgraded to interstate highway standards until 2030. ……….

   Leaving the road as it is - or waiting for federal transportation dollars that may be 25 years in coming - …………….   Is $.20 the right amount? I don't know. But those who balk at paying the toll today should remember that without it University Parkway will soon be very similar to another four-lane road that once offered fast access to Atlanta: U.S. Highway 78.

   Even without the improved highway, local residents and commuters will still pay a toll, but this toll will be measured in lost time, lost jobs and, saddest of all, more lost lives. Northeast Georgia cannot afford a critical blockage of its main artery to Atlanta. An upgraded University Parkway will provide an option for a fast, safe commute to Atlanta while bringing jobs, convenience and clean industry to our region.

Experts Say Abandon Gas Tax & Levy Tolls


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

   SEE: http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/0304/06tolls.html


March 5, 2004


Abandon gas tax, but levy tolls, experts urge


By Duane D. Stanford


Transportation officials and road builders panicking over the lack of money to build new highways say the federal gas tax is running out of fuel and should be abandoned.

One way out of ever-increasing traffic congestion, industry leaders preached during a two-day summit at the nation's capital, is to charge drivers at the toll booth rather than the pump.
"The stars are aligned for tolling and other direct user fees," said Patrick Jones, executive director of the Washington-based International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association, which sponsored the summit. "The fuel tax and everything tied to the fuel tax is not enough to meet the country's transportation needs."

Separate transportation spending bills being debated in Congress would let states manage congestion by charging tolls on interstates. ……………. Another proposal would allow tolls only on new lanes at peak hours. Congress is expected to vote on a transportation spending package sometime this year.
Almost on cue, the Georgia Department of Transportation decided Thursday to spend as much as $00,000 to study the possibility of building high-occupancy toll lanes throughout metro Atlanta. The HOT lanes would allow solo drivers to buy their way out of slow traffic. The state already is experimenting with a new law allowing it to tap into private resources to build toll roads on choked thoroughfares like Ga. 316 from Lawrenceville to Athens.
States' motor fuel taxes have gone from an average of 7.5 cents in 1963 to nearly 22 cents last year. ………………. said today's motor fuel tax penny has roughly one-third the buying power it did 40 years ago, once it's adjusted for inflation and greater fuel efficiency.
State and federal politicians have been reluctant to respond to the lag, fearing taxpayer revolt if they hike the motor fuel surcharge.
Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority Director Douglas Hooker said the state's low gas tax — roughly 12.5 cents per gallon — makes funding transportation projects a special challenge here.

"We're more acutely aware of the limitations of the gas tax because ours is the second-lowest in the nation,"
he said. Alaska is the only state that charges less.
Georgia is one of a growing number of cash-strapped states giving congestion pricing and toll financing an earnest look. A few states, such as California, Colorado, Texas, Virginia and Florida, have led the way.
But while toll roads are a staple of transportation planning in areas of Europe, Asia and Australia, the concept has been slow to win broad acceptance in the United States, where gas is cheap and citizens are used to driving the open road for free. Just 5,000 miles of U.S. roads are tolled.
Now the country may have little choice but to embrace tolls, experts said.
Mary Peters, administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, said using motor fuel taxes to pay for roads is outdated. "We haven't seen a tremendous revolution in road building since the highway era," she told the conference Friday. "Traditional funding for highway building is simply not keeping up with demand."