It seemed obvious that the Coastal Region would defeat T-SPLOST on Tuesday, but the defeat was slightly worse than I thought it would be. It did better in some counties than I expected, and worse in others.
Down here on the coast, we don’t have the transportation problems that Atlanta has, for sure, but we have some much-wanted projects that need a lot of funding.
I’ll have more to say about that and other issues regarding SPLOST votes generally in my column this coming Sunday in the Savannah Morning News.
I’ll say here, however, that I was struck in the final days by the number of people posting comments on Facebook about T-SPLOST that were factually incorrect about the process. Not surprising, but disappointing. There were plenty of reasons to defeat it on its merits without misconstruing or misrepresenting it.
[Update: I just noticed that this morning's data from the Secretary of State's office has entirely omitted Liberty County. No idea why. I'll update this image later, but the different numbers won't matter.]
It’s worth noting that three of the state’s 12 regions approved the referendum, which will certainly complicate the politics going forward. I mentioned that possibility in last Sunday’s column, which is linked in the right sidebar >>>>
Jim Galloway at the AJC gives a hint at what the rest of the state can expect in terms of transportation funding going forward. It ain’t much, which is what I’ve been warning about for weeks:
Chris Riley, the governor’s chief of staff, said traffic planners in regions across the state will be quickly asked to resubmit lists of road and rail proposals that require state and federal funding – figuring in an 8 percent decrease in federal funding. The governor has veto power over each list.
Riley said that Deal intends to use that authority to direct cash to absolutely essential projects in metro Atlanta and elsewhere. “The state’s top transportation priority is the Ga. 400 and I-285 interchange,” Riley said. But metro Atlanta residents could also find themselves enduring pot holes and worse for the sake of better roads around the Port of Savannah, he added.
That’s another priority.
So look for state money to expedite truck traffic from the ports, but not for quality of life issues in West Chatham or elsewhere in the region. And that’s about it.
The state’s new transportation plan, according to Galloway: “Dramatically smaller, paid for with shrinking funds, and highly centralized. Projects will be hand-picked by a governor who intends to squeeze every penny available.”