It’s been interesting to watch the transportation sales tax initiative play out. A few items hit the news last week that I found significant. The first was this article in the AJC about north Fulton mayors and their strategy. Pay careful attention to Johns Creek mayor Mike Bodker. He’s politically positioning himself in the forefront of this issue. I believe Mayor Bodker sincerely wants transit in north Fulton. And like the rest of his peers, I believe he has a vendetta against the current MARTA leadership. I think his involvement in the transportation tax is a way to force himself into a position of authority on metro Atlanta transit. That’s good, except that if Bodker had his way we’d have expensive rail all over the place.
But back to the article. What’s significant about this story is that Bodker is backtracking on commuter rail. The ten year timeframe isn’t long enough to get plans off the ground. And since rail is so darned expensive, it would chew up most of the bond money. The mayors are starting to be more pragmatic, favoring roads over rail. I did a little cheer when I first read this.
The second story to note comes from the Alpharetta Patch and their coverage of a transportation town hall. This was a phone-in event with officials (including Bodker) answering questions. The article lifts up a caller who said, “Why should we believe you people?” The GA-400 toll and MARTA sales tax seem to be immortal despite promises to the contrary. It should come as no surprise that north Fulton taxpayers might feel this way. Will that translate into no votes for the sales tax? I predict a fierce battle between tax party activists and well-funded CID groups.
Downtown’s Parking Deck
And finally, in a somewhat unrelated story… Alpharetta recently hosted its first of four town hall meetings on the new downtown plans. I found it interesting that not one, not two but three different articles on the event all focused on one issue… the parking deck. Seems that this is drawing most of the negative criticism. I’d imagine city staff might be behind this parking deck idea yet it isn’t popular with the rank and file.
Parking decks are an urban feature, not something most suburbanites consider desirable. Off the top of my head I can only think of two parking decks in the city that are open to the public; Dillard’s at the mall and the Northside Hospital office buildings on Old Milton. The rest belong to cubicle dwellers in the office parks. I believe residents’ displeasure with public parking decks is a symptom of an overall opposition to urbanization.