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2-6-04 Rep. Bob Smith Conducts Poll on GA 316 Tolls

Most of us have been “wanting” and advocating for an upgrade of GA 316 for years.  That is not the question.  The question is when and how we pay for it.

The Georgia Report




February 5, 2004


(Bob Smith) Poll says ‘no’ on Georgia 316 tolls


By Tom Crawford

Rep. Bob Smith (R-Watkinsville) says a poll he commissioned of persons living in the area surrounding Georgia 316 shows strong opposition to proposals to convert the highway into a toll road that would charge as much as $.60 a trip.

  Rep. Bob Smith GA House District 76

"They spoke very clearly that they don’t want a $.60 toll," Smith said. "People are telling me, ‘A $ or $ toll would cost me $,500 a year if I commute every day. That’s more than the property taxes on my house.’"

Georgia 316 is one of the primary transportation links between Gwinnett County and Athens, which makes it one of the state’s most heavily highways. Private road builders have proposed to the state Department of Transportation that they would pay the cost of widening and improving 316 if they could make back their investment by charging tolls to use the highway.

Smith, whose district is in close proximity to Georgia 316, retained the Marketing Workshop Inc. to conduct a random telephone poll of 400 persons on Jan. 27 and 28. The poll has a 5 percent margin of error.

Of those polled, 89 percent said they were aware of proposals to make 316 a toll road; 71 percent said they did not consider a proposed toll ranging from $.90 to $.68 to be a "reasonable amount."

Among those respondents who did not consider the proposed toll to be reasonable, 25 percent said no toll at all would be reasonable, 11 percent said a toll of less than $ would be reasonable, 22 percent said a toll between $ and $.99 would be reasonable, and 27 percent said a toll in the $ to 2.99 range would be reasonable.

Smith said he agrees with the need to make improvements to Georgia 316 but said the state should take a "common-sense approach" to financing the improvements.

"We must be careful in forcing the citizens of Georgia to pay unjustified personal money for a road which has already been paid for by the taxpayers in the state system of funding roads," Smith said.

© 2004 by Capitolimpact.com



AVOC COMMENT:  The interesting part of this poll is that most do support a reasonable toll for GA 316.  A total of 60% of respondents said they could support a toll of lesser amount.


Representative Smith and his area colleagues need to find alternative financing if they do not support tolls.  All of us want something free if we can get it.   However, there  is no way that the rest of Georgia is going to let 3/4ths of a Billion Dollars go on one road project in Northeast Georgia.


Most of us have been “wanting” and advocating for an upgrade of GA 316 for years.  That is not the question.  The question is when and how we pay for it.


That question cries out for leadership and solutions.


Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC



See AJC Article Below


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution


            See:  http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/legislature/0204/06tollway.html


February 5, 2004


Poll result: Proposed Ga. 316 toll too high


By Duane D. Stanford, AJC


Seven out of every 10 voters in House District 76, in parts of Oconee, Madison and Clarke counties, said such a fare for the entire 39-mile stretch is "unreasonable," according to the survey of 400 voters. Of those, one-fourth said that any toll is unreasonable, while 27 percent said they would pay as much as $.99 for a one-way trip.
According to census data, fewer than 5 percent of workers in Oconee, Madison and Clarke counties commute to jobs in metro Atlanta.


Rep. Bob Smith (R-Watkinsville) paid $,000 out of his campaign fund for the study, a practice that is not prohibited by Georgia law. Smith said he isn't opposed to tolling the road, but he said the toll must be fair. "We're going to pay attention to this for the sake of the taxpayers, to get the most bang for the buck," he said.
The poll was conducted Jan. 27-28 by the Marketing Workshop. The margin of error is 5 percentage points.
Ron Chance of Washington Group International, which has proposed building the tollway under a new law allowing privately financed road projects, said his firm's market research was more favorable. "We didn't hear those types of responses," he said.
Chance said his research shows that the average driver would pay about $ to use the road, because his trip would be only a few miles. Tolls would be based on miles traveled.
Susan Laccetti Meyers, vice president of Georgians for Better Transportation, also dismissed the poll.
"If this poll was an honest poll," she said, "it would have asked motorists whether they want to sit in traffic the next 30 years or pay the additional toll on Ga. 316, because there's no money on the horizon to fix that highway without private-sector investment."
-- Staff writer Maurice
Tamman contributed to this article.