High Density Mixed Use Developments Make Traffic Worse

devore-hd-mu

On December 12th the Alpharetta City Council was scheduled to hear a zoning application for the most dense development in the history of our city. The case is referred to as the Perling development on Devore Road and I have written about it previously here. At the last minute the applicant chose to defer the case until a later date so it was not heard but will presumably come to city council for a final decision in the next few weeks.

A zoning application of this scale is very complex and there are numerous consequences both intentional and unintentional resulting from such a zoning change so I spent weeks researching the case in an effort to make an informed decision. I reviewed the property owner’s zoning application, the video of the planning commission’s hearing and the report of Alpharetta’s Community Development staff who evaluated the application before recommending approval of the project with some changes and conditions. You can review those materials yourself at the links highlighted above in blue.

The Devore Road project is an example of the high density mixed use developments which are currently all the rage among commercial property owners and developers. A mixed use rezoning allows the property owner to exponentially increase the density permitted on a piece of land which then creates a corresponding increase in their property values. The increase in property value frequently amounts to tens of millions of dollars so it is no surprise that property owners, developers and the people who work for them tend to be huge supporters of such projects. That makes good business sense.

But as cities evaluate zoning applications we have the responsibility to balance the right of a property owner to develop their property with the responsibility of a municipal government to provide the infrastructure and public services for those developments in perpetuity. While a property owner and a development team can cash out after a rezoning or after the project is built the impact on the community is permanent.

So even though many developers and urban planners tend to portray high density mixed use developments as if they miraculously reduce traffic and the demand for other public services by creating a “live, work, play” environment it is our responsibility as elected officials to look beyond the sales pitch to determine the truth. The truth is that mixed use developments do not reduce the impact of development on public infrastructure and services when they exponentially increase the number of people and cars permitted on the property.

While cramming more people and cars onto a parcel of land may be good business for  property owners and can be a useful economic development tool for a city, in no way does it reduce the impact on public infrastructure and services. At best it allows a minor cost efficiency to be realized by allowing the higher amount of infrastructure and  service expenses to be spread over a smaller geographic area.

Adding tens of thousands of cars to Alpharetta roads every day does not reduce congestion. Adding thousands of apartments and homes to Manning Oaks Elementary, Northwestern Middle School and Milton High School school districts does not reduce overcrowding. Adding thousands of residents who can walk to a brewery or a restaurant serving alcohol will not reduce crime in that area.

Increased levels of density increase the demand for public infrastructure, facilities and services. It really is that simple. Yet time after time the supporters of high density mixed use developments make unsubstantiated or demonstrably false claims in an effort to convince people that mixed use developments are a solution for problems they actually make worse.

For example, in the Devore Road zoning application they request approval for a 5 story condo building with 80 units, a 6 story apartment building with 200 units and 64 townhouses in addition to more than 125,000 square feet of office space, restaurants, retail space and a brewery. So with a mixed use zoning designation the applicant wants to build 344 apartments, condos and townhouses in addition to the commercial uses which are already permitted under current zoning. All of that on less than 13 acres.

However based on the traffic study supplied by the applicant for the Devore Road development that project would add 5188 to the roads between downtown Alpharetta and GA 400 every weekday. And of those additional 5188 cars on the road 488 of them would be added during the peak morning rush hour and 384 more cars would be added during the peak afternoon rush hour.

So after traffic engineers have accounted for the “efficiency” of a mixed use development, the Perling project would add 872 more cars to Alpharetta roads during just the 2 hours when congestion is already at its most miserable. Adding 872 cars to Alpharetta roads between GA 400 and downtown during what is already the worst time for congestion does not reduce traffic. It will make traffic worse… much worse.

Yet discussing the Devore Road development in isolation doesn’t adequately illustrate the full impact mixed use developments will have on Alpharetta traffic. The mixed use development planned around City Hall should begin construction very soon. That city center development will include 168 apartments in addition to more than 100,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space. The traffic study performed for City Center estimates it will add an additional 5,893 car trips per day to downtown congestion including 880 more cars added during just the two peak rush hours.

And that’s not all. There is already another zoning application  for a high density mixed use development at the southwest corner of Haynes Bridge Road and GA 400. The hearings for that case are scheduled for February.

peridot-2

The applicant, TPA-Fuqua-Peridot, is requesting 430 apartments, 70 townhomes and more than 600,000 square feet of office, retail, hotel and restaurant space. Their traffic study projects an increase of 15,737 cars a day from the development with an additional burden of more than 3,000 cars a day during just the two worst hours of congestion each weekday.

So there are currently three urban, high density mixed use developments proposed along the Haynes Bridge corridor between downtown and GA 400. As planned those three mixed use developments are projected to add almost 27,000 car trips to traffic every weekday. Of the 27,000 extra cars on the road we can expect 4,853 of them to be added during what are already the two worst hours of congestion and that doesn’t even include additional traffic from Avalon.

Avalon is only half completed so far. The total impact of Avalon’s additional traffic once it is finished is projected to be more than 28,000 additional cars every weekday. That is even more than City Center, Devore Road and Peridot combined. So when added with those projects it will mean that high density mixed use developments on the west side town will add more than 55,000 extra cars a day between those Alpharetta residents and GA 400. It will mean almost 10,000 more cars on those roads during just the two worst hours of traffic each week day if you can imagine that.

Now obviously I can’t speak for everyone but the majority of residents I talk to about the pace of development in Alpharetta overwhelmingly agree that adding more than 55,000 extra cars a day  between downtown and GA 400 is unacceptable. But good people can disagree and there are bound to be some people who believe the economic impact of all those high density mixed use developments would be worth adding 55,000 cars to Alpharetta’s current congestion.

However, facts are still facts. And it is not acceptable for proponents of high density mixed use developments to mislead residents into thinking they will ease traffic or lessen the burden on taxpayers for providing infrastructure and services. That is just not true.

High density mixed use developments make traffic worse. There is just no denying it.

Alpharetta Planning Commission Agenda for December 1, 2016

Below is the agenda for the December meeting of the Alpharetta Planning Commission.

The meeting will take place Thursday at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. If you would like to watch the meeting broadcast live or if you would like to review all of the supporting materials for each case you can find them at this link. I have previously written about the high density mixed use proposal on Devore Road and you can find that article here.

If you have questions or constructive comments please feel free to post them in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

II. ROLL CALL

III. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES
    a. November 3, 2016 Minutes

         Planning Commission 11-3-16

IV. ITEMS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

V. ITEMS FROM STAFF

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

a. MP-16-13/Z-16-11/CU-16-19/V-16-25 TPA Fuqua Development/Peridot

This item has been deferred by the Applicant. It will not be heard on December 1, 2016.

Consideration of a request to amend the Peridot (A.K.A. MetLife) Master Plan to allow 430 ‘For-Rent’ residential units, 70 ‘For-Sale’ townhome units, 51,200 square feet of retail/restaurant use, 664,400 square feet of office use, and up to a 200-room hotel. The master plan amendment also includes changes to previous conditions of zoning. A rezoning is requested on 15.51 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) to MU (Mixed-Use) and conditional uses to allow ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Rent’ use and a bank or savings and loan use. A variance is requested to eliminate the requirement for retail under ‘For-Rent’ residential use on 2 sides of each ‘For-Rent’ building. The property is located on the west side of Haynes Bridge Road south of Lakeview Parkway and is legally described as Land Lots 744, 745, 752, and 753, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

b. Z-16-13/CU-16-20/V-16-27 Perling/13 South Main Street/DT-MU

Consideration of a request to rezone 12.913 acres from C-2 (General Commercial) to DT-MU (Downtown Mixed-Use) in order to develop 36,000 square feet of retail/restaurant use 60,500 square feet of brewery, 30,000 square feet of office use, 64 ‘For-Sale’ townhome units, 50 ‘For-Sale’ condominium units and 200 ‘For-Rent’ residential units. A conditional use is requested to allow ‘For-Rent’ residential use and to allow a residential density of 24.317 dwelling units per acre. A variance is requested from UDC Section 2.7.0(b) to delete the requirement for an on-site neighborhood grocery, as well as variances from UDC Appendix A, Alpharetta Downtown Code to increase the allowable height, allow a different architectural style, increase the maximum building setback, and increase the maximum façade length. The property is located at 13 South Main Street and is legally described as Land Lots 693, 694, 695, and 696, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Applicant’s Response to Conditions
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Revised Site Plan 11.21.16
Tree Survey 10.18.16
Downtown Main Overall Site Rendering
Proposed Architectural Styles
Townhome Elevation w Brick Added
Townhome and Single Family Proposed Elevations 11.21.16
For Rental Elevation 11.21.16
North View of For Rental and TH
Traffic Study
Citizen Email
Letter from Resident
Citizen Part B Report
Specimen Tree Report
Trip Generation Report
Application

c. MP-16-14/Z-16-15 Notting Hill Old Milton Holdings MU

Consideration of a request to rezone approximately 2.9 acres from R-12 (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Residential) and DT-LW (Downtown Live-Work) to MU (Mixed-Use) in order to develop 48 ‘For-Sale’ condominium units and 36,000 square foot office building. A master plan amendment is requested to the Old Milton Holdings Master Plan to change previous conditions of zoning and add property to the master plan. The property is located at the southwest corner of Thompson Street and Park Street and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 749, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Site Plan 11.8.16
Conceptual Residential Elevations
Conceptual Office Elevations
Tree Survey 11.7.16
Arborist Report 11.8.16
Sight Distance
Citizen Part B
Revised Letter of Intent
Application

d. CU-16-22/PH-16-17/V-16-32 SABRI GUVEN

Consideration of a request to change previous conditions of zoning to allow for the expansion of the existing retail center and a freestanding office building. A request for a conditional use permit to allow a dress shop within 25% of an office building in the O-I (Office-Institutional) zoning district. A variance is requested to reduce the front and side setbacks in the O-I zoning district. The property is located at 2225, 2245 and 2255 Old Milton Parkway and is legally described as Land Lot 748, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
FLUP Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
2008 Zoning Conditions
Site Plan with Open Space Calculations
Open Space Plan
2008 Zoning Plan
Elevations1
Elevations2
Tree Report
Tree Accessment
Tree Photos
Application

e. PH-16-18 UDC CHANGES – SMART STORMWATER CODE

Consideration of text amendments to the Unified Development Code to implement smart stormwater strategies.

Council Agenda Report
Stormwater Extent of Services Policy
Storm Water Design Manual
UDC Appendix A Sec 2
UDC Appendix A Sec 3
Article II Sec 2.2.5
Article II Sec 2.3.5
Article II Sec 2.5
Article II Sec 2.5.5
Article III Sec 3.1.1
Article III Sec 3.2.7
Article III Sec 3.3.1
Article III Sec 3.3.14
Article III Sec 3.3.8
Article III Sec 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4
Article III Sec 3.7.2

VII. ADJOURNMENT

Alpharetta Planning Commission Agenda for November 3, 2016

Below is the agenda for the November meeting of the Alpharetta Planning Commission.

The meeting will take place Thursday at Alpharetta City Hall at 6:30 p.m. If you would like to watch the meeting broadcast live or if you would like to review all of the supporting materials for each case you can find them at this link.

If you have questions or constructive comments please feel free to post them in the comments section of this post and I will do my best to respond in a timely fashion.

I. CALL TO ORDER

II. ROLL CALL

III. APPROVAL OF MEETING MINUTES

IV. ITEMS FROM BOARD MEMBERS

V. ITEMS FROM STAFF

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

a. MP­16­13/Z­16­11/CU­16­19/V­16­25 TPA Fuqua Development/Peridot

Consideration of a request to amend the Peridot (A.K.A. MetLife) Master Plan to allow 430
‘For­Rent’ residential units, 70 ‘For­Sale’ townhome units, 51,200 square feet of
retail/restaurant use, 664,400 square feet of office use, and up to a 200­ room hotel. The
master plan amendment also includes changes to previous conditions of zoning. A rezoning is requested on 15.51 acres from O­I (Office­Institutional) to MU (Mixed­Use) and conditional uses to allow ‘Dwelling, ‘For­Rent’ use and a bank or savings and loan use. A variance is requested to eliminate the requirement for retail under ‘For­Rent’ residential use on 2 sides of each ‘For­Rent’ building. The property is located on the west side of Haynes Bridge Road south of Lakeview Parkway and is legally described as Land Lots 744, 745, 752, and 753, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

b. Z­16­13/CU­16­20/V­16­27 Perling/13 South Main Street/DT­MU

This item has been deferred by the Applicant. It will not be heard on November 3, 2016.

Consideration of a request to rezone 12.913 acres from C­2 (General Commercial) to DT­MU (Downtown Mixed­Use) in order to develop 36,000 square feet of retail/restaurant use 60,500 square feet of brewery, 30,000 square feet of office use, 64 ‘For­Sale’ townhome units, 50 ‘For­Sale’ condominium units and 200 ‘For­Rent’ residential units. A conditional use is requested to allow ‘For­Rent’ residential use and to allow a residential density of 24.317 dwelling units per acre. A variance is requested from UDC Section 2.7.0(b) to delete the requirement for an on­site neighborhood grocery, as well as variances from UDC Appendix A, Alpharetta Downtown Code to increase the allowable height, allow a different
architectural style, increase the maximum building setback, and increase the maximum
façade length. The property is located at 13 South Main Street and is legally described as
Land Lots 693, 694, 695, and 696, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

c. MP­16­12/CLUP­16­08 Cousins Westside PODF

Consideration of a request to amend the Cousins Westside Master Plan Pod F to add
‘Dwelling, ‘For­Sale’ Detached’ and ‘Dwelling, ‘For­Sale’ Attached’ to the list of permitted
uses in order to develop 31 single­family detached homes, 33 townhomes, and 10 manor
homes. A Comprehensive Land Use Plan amendment is requested from ‘Corporate Campus Office’ to ‘High Density Residential’. The property is located between Westside Parkway and Encore Parkway, just west of Maxwell Road and is legally described as Land Lots 651, 652,689, and 690, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

d. PH­16­12 Tree and Landscape Ordinance Amendments

Consideration of text amendments to the UDC to consolidate landscape and tree
requirements into one location within the UDC, clarify and simplify certain requirements to provide for ease of use and implementation, and provide incentives and options to save
trees during land development.

VII. ADJOURNMENT

Alpharetta City Council Agenda October 24, 2016

 

Below is the agenda for Monday night’s Alpharetta City Council meeting along with highlighted links to many of the supporting materials. Please feel free to leave questions and comments about agenda items in the comment section and I will do my best to respond in a timely manner.

 

I. CALL TO ORDER

II. ROLL CALL

III. PLEDGE TO THE FLAG

IV. PROCLAMATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS
           A. Life Saving Award

V. CONSENT AGENDA
           A. Council Meeting Minutes (Meeting of 10/17/2016)
                10-17-16 Official Minutes

VI. PUBLIC HEARING

A. MP-16-11/CLUP-16-07/Z-16-09 Sharp Residential Townhomes/Windward Pod 20A

Consideration of a request to rezone approximately 13.7 acres from O-I (Office-Institutional) and CUP (Community Unit Plan) to CUP in order to develop 95 townhomes. An amendment to the Windward Master Plan Pod 20A to add ‘Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Attached’ to the list of permitted uses is requested, as well as, a change to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan from ‘Corporate Campus Office’ to ‘High Density Residential’. The property is located behind Union Hill Park at the southwest corner of McGinnis Ferry Road and Union Hill Road and is legally described as being located in Land Lots 1038, 1039, 1048 & 1049, 2nd District, 1st Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Staff Report
Location Map
Zoning Map
Land Use Map
Aerial Map
Revised Site Plan – 10-14-2016
Townhome Supply Analysis – 10-14-2016
Revised Rendering – 10-14-2016
Product Rendering
Revised Site Plan
TownHome Performance Standards
Citizen Part B Report
Application

B. Z-16-12 1530 Rucker Road

Consideration of a request to rezone approximately 1 acre from AG (Agriculture) to R-12 (Dwelling, ‘For-Sale’ Residential) in order to subdivide the property into 3 lots. The property is located at 1530 Rucker Road and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 1273, 2nd District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Land Use Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Revised 2 Lot Site Plan
Citizenship Part B Report
Application

C. MP-16-06/V-16-16 Academy Sports

Consideration of a request to amend the North Point Business Center Master Plan Pod 1 to add additional stand-alone retail density in order to develop a 62,943 square foot Academy Sports retail building. A variance to UDC Section 3.7.2 (2) to reduce the minimum 25% clear glass on a commercial building requirement along roadway facades is requested. The property is located on the north side of North Point Drive west of Haynes Bridge Road and is legally described as Land Lots 743 & 754, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Location Map
Land Use Map
Zoning Map
Aerial Map
Revised Site Plan 8.29.16
Elevations 2
Elevations 1
Applicant Aerial View
Revised Traffic Study
Application

D. Z-16-10/CU-16-08/V-16-24 Southerton/72 Thompson Street

Consideration of a request to rezone 0.3 acres from O-P (Office-Professional) to DT-LW (Downtown Live-Work) in order to develop 3 single-family detached homes. A conditional use is requested to increase the allowable density and a variance from UDC Appendix A, Section 3.7.3 to reduce the minimum lot size for detached homes and a variance from UDC Section 2.5.5 (D) to allow for crushed stone to be used for internal private streets is requested. The property is located at 72 Thompson Street and is legally described as being located in Land Lot 748, 1st District, 2nd Section, Fulton County, Georgia.

Council Agenda Report
Land Use Map
Aerial Map
Zoning Map
Location Map
Arborist Report 9.14.16
Tree Inventory
Application

VII. NEW BUSINESS
 A. Design Services – Water Quality and Bacteria Source Tracking Study for Foe Killer Creek
          Design Services – Water Quality and Bacteria Source

 B. Approval of the Release of an Indication of Interest to Solicit Potential                    Public/Private Partnership in the Development of a Performing Arts Center
          Approval of the Release of an Indication of Interest
          Performing Arts Center Indication of Interest Draft

 C. History Room Construction Services
          History Room Construction Services
          Malone Phase 2 Proposal
          Final Design
          Final Text Draft
          Graphic Typical Designs
          Schedule
          Alpharetta History Room Design Services Contract 16-102

VIII. PUBLIC COMMENT

IX. REPORTS

X. ADJOURNMENT TO EXECUTIVE SESSION

Urban Core Density proposed for Devore Road in Alpharetta

devore-hd-mu

Another rezoning application has been filed with the City of Alpharetta for yet another high density urban mixed use development. This one calls for 200 apartments in a 6 story building, 80 condos in 5 story building, 64 townhouses or homes and more than 130,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial space on about 12 acres of land. That works out to nearly 30 residential units and more than 10,000 square feet of office, retail and commercial built per acre of land.

To help you understand how dense that is just picture a high school football field without the end zones. Then imagine a typical Trader Joe’s with 29 apartments, condos or townhomes stacked on top in that little space.

Every property owner in Alpharetta has a constitutional right to apply for rezoning on their property and I will do my best to consider how such a dense urban core could ever be in the best interests of our community. But over the years I have consistently stated my belief that dense, urban development will absolutely destroy the very qualities that have made Alpharetta the greatest place in Georgia to raise a family and do business so it is hard to imagine hearing any justification that I haven’t already heard a thousand times.

For the time being though, I will just shake my head in disappointment that prior decisions by our mayor and council have lead property owners and developers to believe this type of urban core density is appropriate for such a site in Alpharetta.

You can find the application and supporting documents on the city website here.

 

Urbanization of Downtown Alpharetta

Last week I wrote about the renewed effort to urbanize the City of Alpharetta. This week we will take a closer look at the current transformation of downtown Alpharetta into an urban core.

Last week’s Alpharetta Herald contained a good article providing insight into the public discussion among our Mayor and City Council members about increasing taxpayer subsidies for the city center project in downtown Alpharetta. You can read the whole thing here.

The reporter, Pat Fox, accurately describes my comments as:

He said he also thinks the project has strayed too far from the image he had of a village-style development and become too heavily focused on mixed-use.

“I don’t believe this plan ever met the spirit of what was sold to the public in the original bond issue back in 2011

The illustration below was published with the article.

alpharetta-urban-collage

Do you notice the huge expanses of green space with trees that serve as the focal point for the development? Do you notice how the heights of buildings within each block of development vary as if they were built over time rather than all at once? It looks pretty good doesn’t it?

Unfortunately the picture above is not the development which our mayor and council just voted to further subsidize with hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars. The actual proposal to be built downtown is shown below.

alpharetta-city-center-2016

As you can see the “village style” city center used to promote bonds for the development has now been transformed into something more resembling Bull Street in downtown Savannah. But even Bull Street doesn’t have a four story apartment building with more than 130 units covering an entire city block. The stark contrast between what was originally sold to residents and what is actually being built provides a timely illustration of the current urbanization taking place in Downtown Alpharetta.

Back in 2011 Alpharetta was mired in the depths of a severe recession. The top priority for our mayor and council at that point was getting Alpharetta’s economy back on track. I am proud to say that when we all worked together toward that common vision the results were overwhelming.

But this is no longer 2011. This is 2016 and today Alpharetta has a booming economy.

The size and density of the numerous development projects approved over the past five years are going to transform this community in ways we can only begin to appreciate. Avalon is only half complete and the developments along Old Milton Parkway and Thompson Street have just started. Thousands of apartments, town houses and homes have been approved but not yet built while nearly every week another large swath of trees is clear cut for more development.

Back in 2011 the people of Alpharetta and their elected officials could only hope for that day when we could face the challenge of how to manage explosive growth. That day is here now.

Mayor Belle Isle and our city council have shown what we can accomplish when we share the same vision. We brought tremendous growth back to this community and we can manage that growth to protect those qualities which make Alpharetta so special.

But when you look at the drastic differences in the two visions above it is no longer clear we still share the same vision. And until we agree on where we are going it will be impossible for us to agree about how we get there.

 

 

Is The Current MARTA Vision Worth The Chase?

The article below was written by Mayor David Belle Isle, the mayor of Alpharetta, who gave me permission to share it with you here.

 

Is The Current MARTA Vision Worth The Chase?

I’m a vision guy. I love looking at something and imagining what it could be; what it could be like; and how to get there. I love chasing a vision and seeing the pieces fall into place. But, for a vision to be worth the chase, the promise of “what could be” has to be better than “what is.”

Last week, I found myself in a makeshift room midway up the interior back stairs of the State Capitol. The room was packed. The air was hot. I was there to testify on behalf of Alpharetta at a committee hearing on the proposed MARTA expansion bill, SB 330. To my surprise, the room was not full of concerned every day citizens seeking faster commute times to home and work. Rather, it was filled with developers, lobbyists, and employees of chamber and public policy groups. Indeed, a total of 7 lobbying firms have been retained to make sure this MARTA bill gets passed and that you vote for it. Big money. Big stakes. Big supporters.

Among others, two developers spoke of how wonderful the MARTA expansion would be for the economy, specifically their economy. They introduced a new phrase: “transit premium.” This is the concept by which the properties serviced by the rail will increase in value by 50%. This is fantastic! Fantastic, that is, if you’re a property owner or developer near a proposed new transit station.

On the whole, I firmly believe that the expansion of public transit is part of the solution as we look to shorten our drive times to home and to work. But, the current $8 Billion proposal has me scratching my head:

  1. What About the 97%ers? Only 3% of commuters within reach of the current rail use MARTA and ridership is down over the past 10 years.
  2. Convenience Factor. For most, using rail involves a six-part process: a drive to the station, a wait for the train, a ride on the rail, a wait for a bus, a ride to a bus stop, and a walk to their building. Real people will weigh that time and hassle against driving straight to work.
  3. Transit for Everyone… Else. Many who support the expansion of MARTA rail are laboring under the hope that others will take the train so that their drive downtown won’t take so long.
  4. Until Death Do It Tax. 43 years is a long time to pay a tax on everything you purchase. This puts the full payment outside my life expectancy. I’m 40.
  5. Bait and Switch. The MARTA project list is disposable. MARTA is not obligated to build the projects the voters are being asked to fund. They should be.
  6. Hadn’t Thought of That. No one has thought to measure the expected improvement, if any, along Georgia 400. For an informed vote, we need to know how much quicker our drives will be.
  7. Federal Match? The proposed expansion is dependent on federal matching funds of $4 Billion. There is no obligation by the Fed to commit these funds. Before MARTA expansion hits a ballot, there should be.
  8. I’m Against What? The ballot question is worded in a way that a “No” vote implies you oppose traffic relief and economic development. The question should be neutral.
  9. Stacked Deck for Alpharetta. If successful, 3 new transit stations will attract 3 new streams of traffic from surrounding areas and require 3 new 2,500-car parking decks constructed MARTA-style.

I truly want to see us, as a region, take on traffic and develop a comprehensive plan. I can see it. That’s my vision. It is imprinted on my mind. Yet, we need to look at all the options openly: heavy rail, new roads, light rail, additional lanes, bus-rapid-transit, managed lanes, bus circulator programs, intersection improvements, signal timing, adaptive traffic, Uber, driverless cars. If we’re not careful, we’ll spend more than half of our transportation dollars on 3% of our commuters. “What could be” will be no better than “what is,” except we’ll have the pleasure of paying for “what should never have been.” The best answer probably lies in some combination of travel methods. We don’t know. But before we vote, let’s find out if this vision is worth the chase.