The GreenRoom: Februrary 2007

A new plan suggested by the L.A.-based Reason Foundation calls for $23 billion in new road construction – largely tollways and tunnels – in and around the Metro Atlanta area. Lawmakers, plied by oil lobbyists for post-election thank you gestures, may see a source of relief in the plan, which fits in nicely with the governor’s oil-friendly vision of expanding I-75 to 23 lanes and running buses into sky stations.

But anyone who has ever driven in Los Angeles should be alarmed by remarks from State Transportation Board Director Mike Evans, as reported in Creative Loafing, such as “Where do we spend the money to get the biggest bang for the buck? That’s not in the transit area.” In the same article, Atlanta-based Smart Growth America Director David Goldberg referred to the Reason Foundation plan as “laughably grandiose and bizarre” and wants to put it to vote against a transit-oriented, homegrown scenario.

“Discussing a big dig for Atlanta is a distraction from transit projects that have been thoroughly studied and would actually get people out of traffic,” notes Citizens for Progressive Transit President Lee Biola on the group’s web site.

Privatizing Atlanta’s roads could also create accountability issues – and don’t forget the smog that caused Atlanta to lose federal funding for road projects in 1999. The 1,000-plus lanes of traffic called for in the new plan would create “a helluva lot of emissions,” says Sierra Club Lobbyist Neil Herring.

Categories: Green Room