Looking at the T-SPLOST projects is not enough to understand where the overcharges and prep projects are. We need to understand the costs we are being charged for each project and then determine how these charges compare with what they should be. We also need to understand what the prep work is and what they are prepping for.
Take the time to review the projects on the T-SPLOST list in your county. These lists are posted on websites on the internet. Try to find out how many miles are involved in building the projects. Miles are included on some Fact Sheets that appear after the lists that start on page 13 of the ARC report.
Download the Generic Cost Per Mile Road Construction pdf to get a sense of what it costs to mill and resurface or build new road construction. You will find that milling and resurfacing costs about $200 thousand per lane, per mile. A mile of 2 lane road would cost about $400 thousand to mill and resurface.
Adding lanes to existing roads costs about $1 million per lane per mile. Adding 2 lanes plus shoulders to a 2 lane road would cost about $2 million per mile. This should include filling ravines, leveling hills, grading, moving signs, culverts and phone poles, etc.. If land or buildings need to be purchased, the cost may be higher based on what is purchased. This could include homes, buildings, and frontage property as needed. A good design would avoid these expenses..
If, like Cherokee County you have 11 miles of road to convert from 2 lane to 4 lane with shoulders, you would expect the cost to be $22 million. The charge on their project lists for these 3 projects totals $190 million.
Interstate Road Costs
Widening interstate highways can cost $5 million per mile plus $5 million for each bridge expansion. Adding 2 lanes on each side of I-285 for 30 miles on the north end would cost $150 million for the additional lanes and $50 million to extend 10 bridges.
There are Light Rail Prep projects on the T-SPLOST that cost from $5 million for studies like the 8.8 mile Clifton Corridor and the $695 million for “enhancing” the bus service in Cobb. These Light Rail projects are awaiting the 2nd T-SPLOST. Light Rail costs $123 million per mile. The Clifton light rail would cost $1.1 billion. That $1.1 billion cost would add 2 lanes to 550 miles of 2 lane road.
MARTA is a hard rail train. There is no expansion construction in this T-SPLOST, but hard rail costs can range from $20 million per mile and $60 million per mile, with some running over $100 million per mile. There are hundreds of millions of dollars in this T-SPLOST for rail corridor study, land purchase and prep work that will be wasted.
Roads are Cheaper
Building new roads and highways and adding lanes to these are much cheaper than hard rail or light rail. Hard rail is 10 to 20 times more expensive per mile than roads. Light Rail is 60 times more expensive per mile than roads. It would be cheaper to purchase homes to widen roads than install any rail.
The Transport Politic website article How significant an opportunity for reducing U.S. construction costs? Yonah Freemark August 23rd, 2011 (for rail costs per mile)
Generic Cost Per Mile Models, 2/1/11 (for road costs per mile)
Over half of the projected revenue for the Atlanta Region 3 T-SPLOST was $7.2 billion, now revised to $8.6 billion is scheduled to go to Transit trains, hard rail and light rail prep, studies and buses.
This is because T-SPLOST is attempting to solve two entirely different problems. One is that MARTA public transit is bankrupt and will no longer be receiving federal funding after 2012. Their strategy for replacing lost federal dollars and filling their coffers is to get us to kick in a 1% sales tax increase. Our incentive to do this is that we will get overcharged for road improvements. GDOT will get hundreds of millions to correct some of their current and past mistakes.
Interstate Toll Lanes
To make matters worse, Gov. Bad Deal is pushing for toll lanes on all Interstates plus more tolls on SR 400. This is separate from the T-SPLOST, so a NO vote on the T-SPLOST won’t stop this lane stealing. This may be a flanking maneuver to distract us, but the threat of having our money wasted on this insult is real.
Plan B for Freedom
Vote NO on the T-SPLOST and defeat it in Atlanta Region 3 . Repeal TIA to restore County and City sovereignty over roads and abolish all regional commissions.. Remove HOV lanes and HOT (Toll) lanes. Shrink GDOT to handle Interstates and the dismantling of HOV and HOT lanes. Outlaw regional taxes.
Plan B for MARTA
Have MARTA turn their bus service over to private companies and take their resources to stabilize their train operating costs. Then turn inward to keep their train service within DeKalb and Fulton Counties and the City of Atlanta. The stakeholders here include the CIDs, TADs, Tourist venues, hotels, businesses near stations and philanthropists.. If they step up to support MARTA, that might complete the subsidy support for trains. Otherwise Maglev might replace MARTA as the “no cost” solution.
Plan B for GRTA
The other public transit bus service, GRTA should be replaced by private bus companies and should be abolished.