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TSPLOST – Can We Trust the DOT?

Gotta get downtown . . . .

Our second question about TSPLOST is whether the DOT can get the job done on time and on budget.

If I were hiring a contractor for a job, I would obviously want to do some background checking, get references, and see past work. If I am going to decide that Atlanta should spend several billion dollars on 150 projects around the city, I want to do the same diligence on the Department of Transportation.

Is the DOT going to get job done on time and on budget?

Well, I have watched this project improving the Peachtree Rd corridor from Piedmont to Peachtree Dunwoody. They seem to be doing fine, but doesn’t it seem like it has taken about twice as long as it should? I don’t remember the exact timeline for the project, but it has been several years to add a simple median with some plants.

I also remember the project at Roxboro and E Paces. What did that take? Like 10 years?

Or the widening of Abernathy from Roswell to Johnson Ferry? That’s been about 5 years and I still see orange cones.

400 was supposed to stop tolling me when it was paid for. It got paid off a couple years ago . . . . I still pay. (I know Governor Deal claimed this would stop at the end of next year, but I am still paying right now.)

I guess the moral is that I trust the DOT about as far as I can throw them. I know there are thousands of reasons for delays, setbacks, and cost overruns and maybe my expectations are too high. But I work in the CRE business. Construction is a little hobby of mine. We seem to get our stuff done on time and on budget.

Having said all that, this TSPLOST vote is supposed to keep the money with the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission and is also requiring the creation of a Citizen Review Panel to oversee progress of the projects. (Scott Selig wrote a decent article including these two entities here.) I have no idea who is selected to be on these two special groups or what “power” they will have.

For example, if the DOT runs late on improving the 400 and 285 interchange, what will the Citizen Review Panel do about it? Will they write scathing letter?

Good . . . now I feel better about the hundreds of millions of dollars we allocated there.

Do you see what I’m getting at?

The DOT’s track record is against it.

Fine, then they are doing something to increase the accountability.

Good idea. Did they go far enough?

Meh . . . . maybe.

I’d call this one a wash. I think they are trying to do more to hold the DOT to budgets and timelines, but decades of history are working against them.

So let’s call this is solid “Maybe”.

On to our final thoughts on TSPLOST Monday before the big vote Tuesday.

– Duke

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