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Old 08-16-2011, 01:52 PM
 
3,208 posts, read 4,510,820 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron H View Post
Is all of this fully funded by the initiative? I just glanced through the list and am unsure exactly how the numbers are supposed to line up, but it looked like many road projects were fully funded while the transit projects were only partially (or minimally) funded. Am I wrong about that? If not, where does the rest of the funding come from and how do we know what will actually be built?
A lot of it is not yet funded. The money is simply for preliminary work and if any federal or state funding becomes available, it will be expedited.

If it is closer to half-funded, they might have a scaled down version that could result. Some of the projects are partially funded by the federal government from already locked-down sources, which is why the total list is more than $6.1 billion.


I'm noticing a lot of needlessly juicy budgets for road projects. It's entirely possible extra money could be allocated from these in the event of going under budget to the unfunded projects on the list (road projects are included in this group too). I want some clarification on this point.

For instance, TIA‐GW‐00 (4-laning 1.6 miles of Buford highway on the northern border of Gwinnett) clocks in at $28 MM, which is an insanely high budget. For comparison's sake, the $19.9 MM budget to extend Satellite Blvd across I-85 and hook it into Indian Trail Road, which includes completely new greenfield roadway as well as a bridge over 85 and the Alcovy River (basically a brand new 1.5 mile corridor), seems very reasonable to me. The company I work for is involved in a similar road project in a different market that crosses a smallish river and clocks in at $9 million for a couple miles as well as an intersection with a highway.

Certain other things (like grade-separating 316 @ 29 for $60 million) seem crazy expensive, especially when putting new flyovers on GA 400 @ I-85 only cost $21.4 million and is a much more ambitious project.
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:28 PM
 
Location: ITP - City of Atlanta Proper
7,797 posts, read 11,738,575 times
Reputation: 5394
Quote:
Originally Posted by K-SawDude View Post
They're going to have to explain this, I think. I encourage everyone who's doubtful about this bill but not anti-transit (i.e., you're not a Tea Party nutjob) to contact the Roundtable with your concerns and questions. It will help them make a better bill in the short term, and to anticipate public criticism during the marketing phase leading up to the vote.

You may be able to email them comments, but there are also a series of public meetings about the final draft list over the next few weeks:

Georgia Transportation Investment Act - Atlanta Regional Roundtable (http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/public_outreach.html - broken link)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron H View Post
Yeah, that's the kind of thing I was getting at, and it seems to be true of all of the big transit projects. Is there an established source for the other $866 million, or is it speculative/wishful?

Ok, here's a little Funding 101 for how this tax will work with MARTA in it's current form, and hopefully, how MARTA's funding structure will look post TIA.

As of right now, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, MARTA gets most of it's money in two forms:

-Fare revenue
-The 1% sales tax levied in Fulton and Dekalb counties for the last ~40 years

While MARTA can spend the fare revenue in any way it sees fit, the law that created MARTA also dictates that the system can only spend 50% of the sales tax on operations and the rest on capital expenditures such as expansion and maintenance. So how much money are we talking here?

For FY07, this how much MARTA receives from all revenue sources:
(Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...HSHuS5Y_-q6GQA)

FY07 Actuals
Revenue from 1% sales tax - $349 million
Revenue from fare collection - $99 million
"Other" transit revenues (State and Federal) - $11 million
Interest on capital reserves - $6 million
Lease income - $1.5 million
TOD revenue - $3.3 million
Total - $469 million

While that seems like a lot, remember that MARTA can only use 50% of the sales tax for operations and 50% for capital expenditures. If you look at slide 17 of the source above you will see that it takes ~$320 million each year just to run MARTA from labor cost to healthcare, pensions, fuel, etc and $174 million was left over for expansion, replacement of vehicles and repair.

Since operating costs have only gone up over the years, and this ridiculous 50/50 rule was kept in place, MARTA has not been in a position to expand in almost 20 years due to not having any other significant form of funding such as major State funding.

This is where the new transportation tax comes in. Without it, MARTA would likely never be able to expand and as seen by today's proposal agreement the system will receive funding for major projects it couldn't even think of undertaking just a few years ago such as building new stations, the Beltline, or whole new heavy rail lines. But tucked in there was something not as sexy as a brand new line, but just as important as one: Receiving funding for repair of the existing service.

With the $600 million allocation over 10 years, that will cover what MARTA used the other 50% of the sales tax for previously. This means that MARTA will all of a sudden have $174 million free each year for pure expansion. If you do the math, then you will see this will pay for the Red Line expansion to Holcolmb Bridge. In other words, the Mayor scored a serious coup for MARTA.
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Old 08-16-2011, 02:34 PM
 
Location: ATL
4,688 posts, read 6,408,610 times
Reputation: 1804
Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
Ok, here's a little Funding 101 for how this tax will work with MARTA in it's current form, and hopefully, how MARTA's funding structure will look post TIA.

As of right now, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone, MARTA gets most of it's money in two forms:

-Fare revenue
-The 1% sales tax levied in Fulton and Dekalb counties for the last ~40 years

While MARTA can spend the fare revenue in any way it sees fit, the law that created MARTA also dictates that the system can only spend 50% of the sales tax on operations and the rest on capital expenditures such as expansion and maintenance. So how much money are we talking here?

For FY07, this how much MARTA receives from all revenue sources:
(Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...HSHuS5Y_-q6GQA)

FY07 Actuals
Revenue from 1% sales tax - $349 million
Revenue from fare collection - $99 million
"Other" transit revenues (State and Federal) - $11 million
Interest on capital reserves - $6 million
Lease income - $1.5 million
TOD revenue - $3.3 million
Total - $469 million

While that seems like a lot, remember that MARTA can only use 50% of the sales tax for operations and 50% for capital expenditures. If you look at slide 17 of the source above you will see that it takes ~$320 million each year just to run MARTA from labor cost to healthcare, pensions, fuel, etc and $174 million was left over for expansion, replacement of vehicles and repair.

Since operating costs have only gone up over the years, and this ridiculous 50/50 rule was kept in place, MARTA has not been in a position to expand in almost 20 years due to not having any other significant form of funding such as major State funding.

This is where the new transportation tax comes in. Without it, MARTA would likely never be able to expand and as seen by today's proposal agreement the system will receive funding for major projects it couldn't even think of undertaking just a few years ago such as building new stations, the Beltline, or whole new heavy rail lines. But tucked in there was something not as sexy as a brand new line, but just as important as one: Receiving funding for repair of the existing service.

With the $600 million allocation over 10 years, that will cover what MARTA used the other 50% of the sales tax for previously. This means that MARTA will all of a sudden have $174 million free each year for pure expansion. If you do the math, then you will see this will pay for the Red Line expansion to Holcolmb Bridge. In other words, the Mayor scored a serious coup for MARTA.
Nice!
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:02 PM
 
Location: Home of the Braves
1,164 posts, read 926,605 times
Reputation: 1148
Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
With the $600 million allocation over 10 years, that will cover what MARTA used the other 50% of the sales tax for previously. This means that MARTA will all of a sudden have $174 million free each year for pure expansion. If you do the math, then you will see this will pay for the Red Line expansion to Holcolmb Bridge. In other words, the Mayor scored a serious coup for MARTA.
I'm trying to do the math, but I'm not tracking. You're saying that MARTA is getting $600MM over 10 years -- call it $60MM/year -- and this will "free up" $174MM/year in sales tax revenue that can now be used for expansion?

More to the point, here's what I see on the list in terms of rail transit (funding/cost 000s):

MARTA North Extension: $37/$903
Beltline: $601/$1,547
NW Corridor: $856/$1,234
I-85 North Transit Corridor: $95/$1,303
MARTA East Extension: $225/$791
Clifton Corridor: $700/$1,113

What fills the $4.37 billion gap between funding and costs for these projects? Assuming nothing fills that gap and that what we're really getting is pieces of these projects ranging from preliminary studies to parts of multi-phase efforts, where is that laid out for me?

Last edited by Cameron H; 08-16-2011 at 03:20 PM.. Reason: Changed "trillion" to "billion."
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:07 PM
 
3,208 posts, read 4,510,820 times
Reputation: 1732
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cameron H View Post
I'm trying to do the math, but I'm not tracking. You're saying that MARTA is getting $600MM over 10 years -- call it $60MM/year -- and this will "free up" $174MM/year in sales tax revenue that can now be used for expansion?

More to the point, here's what I see on the list in terms of rail transit (funding/cost 000s):

MARTA North Extension: $37/$903
Beltline: $601/$1,547
NW Corridor: $856/$1,234
I-85 North Transit Corridor: $95/$1,303
MARTA East Extension: $225/$791
Clifton Corridor: $700/$1,113

What fills the $4.37 trillion gap between funding and costs for these projects? Assuming nothing fills that gap and that what we're really getting is pieces of these projects ranging from preliminary studies to parts of multi-phase efforts, where is that laid out for me?
Expanding on your questions:

Assuming no outside sources fill the gap, are these projects "first in line" in the event of other fully-funded projects coming in under budget?

Another important thing is that the tax only runs until the $7.2 billion is collected under the current plan; a proposal has been made to run the tax out over the full 10 years and put any excess money above the expected amount towards additional projects. Would/could that money fund these partially-funded projects?
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:18 PM
bu2
 
8,979 posts, read 5,679,048 times
Reputation: 3540
Quote:
Originally Posted by K-SawDude View Post
A really interesting summary of a focus group on this transportation initiative can be found here: http://www.atlantaregionalroundtable.com/docs/focus_group_results_Mar-Apr.pdf (broken link)

Some highlights to whet your appetite...

A South Fulton citizen:

A Cherokee County citizen:

For those opposing this tax, keep in mind that THIS is the type of electorate the Roundtable is dealing with. (I'm biased here, but I want to give a major to the Cherokee County attitude. So me-me-me it's almost ridiculous.)
Yes, you've got a clear bias. The South Fulton isn't extreme?
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:22 PM
 
Location: Home of the Braves
1,164 posts, read 926,605 times
Reputation: 1148
Quote:
Originally Posted by bu2 View Post
Yes, you've got a clear bias. The South Fulton isn't extreme?
They're both...provincial, let's say. I think that was his point -- it's really hard to make all the different constituencies happy.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:43 PM
 
28,147 posts, read 24,679,387 times
Reputation: 9539
Quote:
Originally Posted by waronxmas View Post
For FY07, this how much MARTA receives from all revenue sources:
(Source: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sourc...HSHuS5Y_-q6GQA)

FY07 Actuals
Revenue from 1% sales tax - $349 million
That raises a point I was thinking about. When they first started talking about this referendum some pretty big numbers were being floated around, like $9 billion, but I couldn't see where that was coming from.

As you say, MARTA typically gets around $350 million from the sales tax in DeKalb and Fulton. Over ten years that's $3.5 billion in revenue from a 1% sales tax.

The combined population of Fulton and DeKalb is 1.6 million, which is about half of the 10 county area involved in the referendum. Assuming the other counties generate roughly the same sales taxes, you'd come up with around $7 billion max over the 10 years.

That's much more in line with the current projections. It's still a lot of money and we ought to be able to get some really good things done.
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Old 08-16-2011, 03:48 PM
bu2
 
8,979 posts, read 5,679,048 times
Reputation: 3540
I've got lots of concerns about these projects. I'm not about to pay 2% for continuing operations. If I'm paying extra I want it for real improvements. I don't know of any other place in the country that requires 2%.

Clayton, Gwinnet, GRTA buses $240 million. Clayton chose not to pay for this. GRTA already pays for part. This sounds like we are being taxed so Clayton, etc. can spend money elsewhere. And the bigger question-how do you fund it after 10 years?
MARTA state of good repair $600 million. From the description of these, it sounds like capital projects to me. If MARTA has all this money in their capital fund they want to use on operations, why can't they use it on these improvements?
Dekalb MARTA east extension-$225 million. The description I have seen is that it builds 5 bus stops @$50 million apiece that can be converted to rail stops. Why are we spending so much? How does it fit in with the proposed ideas for light rail on I-20 (only 3 miles from MARTA) and MARTA extended to Turner Field? We shouldn't be making policy decisions this way-it should be through the normal process.
Gwinnet rail project-$95 million. This is preliminary engineering. By my calculation it would take 1,100 engineers billing $250/hr for an entire year to generate this much cost. Are we going to hire someone who's a friend of Gwinnet Co. commissioners? With the indictments, we know how things work up there.
Hwy 92-various projects to re-locate the road. There is a western connector proposed project. Would it make more sense to build a toll road in the same general area (and have drivers pay a big chunk of the costs)? There needs to be some coordination, not just a list of pet projects.

That's about 20% of the list. And that doesn't count 2 projects I have philosopical objections to with another billion and a half.

Cobb County light rail-$856 million-This and the Emory line are the two most important transit projects in the area. But is this nearly a billion dollars wasted by the infatuation with light rail? Or because Cobb doesn't want to be too connected to Atlanta? This line goes to the Arts Center, in other words, nowhere the Cobb Co. people want to go. It doesn't connect the system, it dis-connects it. Transfers kill ridership. We need people riding it who choose to do so, not just those who can't afford a car. And does this cover the establishment of a whole new repair infrastructure and maintenance of that? We should look at doing this right. It should be a MARTA extension. It could be from the Arts Center and run through town, but it makes more sense from Bankside. Then you could use one of our existing 4 MARTA lines instead of having the operating costs of a whole new line (and you could utilize a line that they considering shutting down since it only serves one stop not served elsewhere). And it would NOT require a whole new maintenance infrastructure and training.

Finally the beltline-$600 million-I think this is flushing money down the toilet. And the costs of operating this economic development project (its not really about transit and as overbuilt as we are it probably won't be much economic development) will devastate the bus system used by transit dependent people to support something trendy used by trendy people on weekends. But discussion of the beltline could be a whole thread by itself.
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Old 08-16-2011, 05:04 PM
 
28,147 posts, read 24,679,387 times
Reputation: 9539
Quote:
Originally Posted by bu2 View Post
MARTA state of good repair $600 million. From the description of these, it sounds like capital projects to me.
I'm pretty sure this $600 million is just to fix what's already there, not to build anything new.
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