A few final thoughts on T-SPLOST

Do Savannah area voters who soundly rejected T-SPLOST realize just how little state money we’re likely to get in coming years for new road construction, modifications for safety and efficiency, transit, and various other categories of transportation spending?

Click here for my City Talk column (“T-SPLOST fallout: Sometimes the money just isn’t there”) in the Savannah Morning News, which discusses the future of state spending in regions like ours.

Ironically, on Saturday, folks were stuck at Tybee again — or were stuck trying to get to Tybee. Another wreck on the Lazaretto Creek bridge shut down traffic apparently for a few hours.

The T-SPLOST would have put three new bridges with safer shoulders and perhaps other modifications on the road to Tybee — at Lazaretto Creek, at Bull River, at the Wilmington River. I don’t know enough details about yesterday’s accident to say if a wider bridge would have prevented the accident or might have facilitated travel much sooner after the accident. But it’s pretty clear that our current bridges are not safe and that they are sometimes serious impediments to traffic flow.

The referendum, which was soundly rejected last Tuesday, would have raised close to $70 million to replace those bridges. As I have kept saying, by law GDOT would have had to complete those projects. The project list was generated through a long public process involving local and regional leaders, but those same leaders would have had no power to change the list once it was approved.

By the way, even with the T-SPLOST, we wouldn’t have gotten those bridges for years. That’s a lot of money to serve an area with so few businesses and so little population.

As I say in today’s column, we might get lucky with those projects. But don’t expect it.

I do note that maybe the door is now open for smaller and smarter projects that promote better urbanism within the Savannah city limits.

For relatively little cost, we can reduce capacity on various streets that obviously have more than we need or that facilitate dangerous speeds. I’m thinking about a street like Whitaker, which could have one travel lane with parking and with wider tree lawns or sidewalks for most or all of its length. We can seek other funding to take down the I-16 flyover, which has been a terrible impediment to downtown traffic, commerce, and quality of life.

We can get serious about making it easier for drivers to park in on-street spaces in horribly underutilized portions of the Historic District. Click here for a post from last summer about the overly short time limits and the overly high prices for on-street parking around some squares. Everything I say there is still valid today.

We can also get serious about slowing down traffic crossing Bull, Abercorn, and Barnard streets by enforcing the existing law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians already in the crosswalks.