Although the heated rhetoric surrounding the Cobb TSPLOST rail plan currently reaching historic dimensions is a recent phenomenon, the obscure $3.8 million rail plan upon which the debate is centered has been around for over a decade.
To many, that’s part of the problem.
To them, it’s a debate that should have occurred long ago; and given the complete and final transformation that will occur as a result of a project as massive as the construction of a rail line, the debate should be expected.
The feds expect it, and perhaps in an effort to insure the debate actually has taken place before they let loose with federal funds that actually will set earth in motion, they set a standard that must be met before federal funding can even be applied for.
Rail must be part of the federal and state-mandated Comprehensive Transportation Plan (CTP).
Did Cobb meet that standard?
As it now exists, the CTP is just a document, but between 2005 and 2008 as it was being created it was a massive county-wide mobilization of transportation planners, stakeholders, observers — even groupies.
After three years of studying, inputting, analyzing and figuring — the plan still had to be adopted by the BOC facing a round of pre-vote public hearings there.
Was a rail plan part of the assortment of presentations given during the three years the CTP was created?
Even though the Cumberland/Croy/LCI rail plan had been around for years at the time; neither it, nor any other rail plan was featured in any CTP presentation.
Rail simply wasn’t a focus, or even a prominent feature of the dialogue that occured at the time.
A couple people did show up during public meetings and asked, in essence, “where’s the rail?”, and there was some very lively discussion among what are obviously very knowledgable stakeholders in a couple poorly attended stakeholder meetings; but rail was not a point of discussion during the creation of the CTP.
I invite you to draw your own conclusion, though. Thankfully, it’s very easy to do.
Perhaps in anticipation of this sort of controversy (like the one above), the feds require that presentations given and public comment received during the creation of the federally-mandated CTP be documented and preserved.
CDOT did. But; unlike the main body of the CTP, and like the rail plan — it never has been available for download and you have to know it exists to ask to see it.
When I first encountered this procedural oddity, I made a request under the Georgia Open Records act and have made the reports I received from CDOT in response available at what has come to be my “reporter’s notebook” — cobbhomeowner.org .
But even without the documentary evidence that the CTP itself provides, there is a very clear standard based on common sense.
Had this 1998 rail plan been exposed to the public any time since its creation it would have set off the firestorm we currently are enduring.
Why does it matter?
Taxpayers are about to fund the rail plan, yet most of us never have seen it or even knew it existed.
Two Cobb cities declined the opportunity to even be involved in the development of the CTP, were they involved in the development of this impending rail plan that will reshape the county forever?
It’s difficult to tell because of the secrecy in which the rail plan was developed, but given past developments it may be unwise to assume so.
Will this plan develop the malls at the cost of our cities?
That certainly seems to be the end result of the past decade of transportation planning where all new roads lead to malls or WellStar campuses, and certainly could be a consequence of this plan.
This rail plan may very well be an excellent plan; the process, though, left out what some consider to be the most important stakeholder — the public footing the bill.
But in order for Cobb’s ongoing Federal New Starts Alternative Analysis (AA) to even have be funded, Cobb must have had rail in the CTP
What did Cobb say is Cobb’s rail plan in the Cobb CTP?
I call it a traffic simulation. Most people haven’t heard of this one, either.
We shouldn’t even be doing this AA, we skipped a step.
Let’s have the commissioners put a rail plan into the CTP first.
Do you really think that “everything is on the table” with this ongoing rail study?
I’m going to take a look at the pressure currently being applied to elected officials and county staff.
You’ll learn the history of the Cumberland CID and how it relates to the Development Authority of Cobb County (DACC).
We’re also going to give new life to an old storyline. Remember:
It’s not the taxpayers’ money?
I finally figured out what the heck they were talking about, and you are not going to like it.
Stay tuned, you’ll not want to miss out!