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When You Hear Car Horns Blaring, You Will Know A Lobbyist Got His Wings...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Rumors have it that the upcoming vote by the State Board of Transportation to approve a Letter of Intent this Thursday on a $1.2 Billion transportation project in part of Cobb and Cherokee will be the result of the finagling of one self-proclaimed "most powerful lobbyist in Georgia" who has a direct connection with the Governor's office.

The project will reportedly leave suburban commuters in an undisputed traffic tangle for years to come. And key Republican lawmakers and GOP activists are starting to express serious concerns about the project.

We'll Just Dub This Project Cobb County Traffic FUBAR

The transportation project is referred to as the Northwest Corridor Improvement Project. The project was proposed back in November 2004 by a consortium of highway contractors called Georgia Transportation Partners ("GTP") and comprised primarily of one out-of-state company, Bechtel Infrastructure.

The project was a result of the passage of Georgia's Public-Private Transportation Initiatives Act that allows private enterprise to propose new projects for the public sector.

In the case of the NW Corridor project, a time period was allowed after the proposal by GTP to allow other bidders to come in and propose similar or new projects. No one else provided any kind of bid, so, the plan by GTP moved-on to the next series of stages over the past year to bring us to this point.

Without going into a great deal of boring discussion on the project (though our talent is to make almost anything in politics interesting and entertaining, even we have limits), the project's impact, if everything moves forward on it, and all of the environmental impact studies pass muster with those authorities, will start being felt around 2008 when construction starts on the 26-mile project.

The major impact will be when the Kennedy Interchange (the beautiful piece of engineering at the intersection of I-75 and I-285), which has worked incredibly well for the last 10 years, gets demolished and torn asunder in favor of adding "Lexus Lanes" (optional toll lanes for non-HOV cars), truck toll lanes, and Bus Rapid Transit ("BRT") lanes.

One of the most aggravating parts of this whole project is the concept of the BRT. We have yet to see any surveys/polls taken of the inhabitants of Cobb or Cherokee counties that say "Wow! Bus transportation down I-75 to 285? Where do I sign-up for THAT?"

The concept of the BRT for the NW Corridor appears to be the result of a lot of money being spent on studies by outside-Georgia highway contractors who presume that "if you build it, people will come...and, they will gladly pay for it."

The BRT will build stations at locations that currently do not have access to I-75. Planned stations will be at Terrell Mill, Roswell Road (120), Allgood Road and Bells Ferry.

To us, the BRT is a sneak attack to allow a MARTA-like operation to come into Cobb County and Cherokee County, and bring-in direct access for more illegals and more gangs to have an easy access to people who have yet to experience the thrills of being mugged...or worse.

This will only hurt a little bit...for 5 years

As mentioned above, the Kennedy Exchange is set to be rearranged a tad bit. Coupled with it will be the Akers Mill/Cumberland Blvd. intersection with I-75 to the south, and the Windy Hill intersection with I-75 to the north. Scratch an easy-on, easy-off method on I-75 for Senator Johnny Isakson and Senator Saxby Chambliss, their staffs and the businesses that have offices in the Galleria.

Now, the "anticipated" number of years for your traveling hell will only be 5 years. Then the 26-mile project is scheduled to be completed. What will be the result? Your commute time will be reduced anywhere from 14 minutes to 28 minutes every day. Wow! That certainly seems worth, we're not sure if the commuters will agree it's been worth it or not.

And, apparently, the state transportation board doesn't know either, or really care. They just know they gotta lay some more asphalt SOMEWHERE in order to have a purpose in the world.

Now, what did a lobbyist have to do with all of this...?

Rumor has it that Mr. Powerful Lobbyist (we'll dub him Jack Abramoff, Jr., or Jack, Jr.) was the one who got the Governor's people to put the kibosh on the Highway 316 toll-lanes project last year. Why? Because Jack, Jr. was afraid all of the money available for public-private initiatives would be used-up on 316 and no money would be available for his client's NW Corridor Project.

Well, we guess when there is a "win-bonus" on the line for a project to break ground, lobbyists will do anything to serve themselves, and orchestrate anyone, including the Governor, to do their bidding.

Rumor has it that some major media outlets are looking at the relationship between Jack, Jr. and the Governor's office...and, perhaps it's high time they did.

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