There are several things standing in the way of Georgia’s development of high-speed rail service and other transportation alternatives, but two are perhaps the most obvious.
The first, of course, is money. Aside from the economic pinch, bad in Washington and worse in Atlanta, Georgia transportation funding mostly is in the form of traditional — some would say outmoded — “road taxes.” These are the levies on fuel that can be spent only on road and bridge projects. So money for other forms of transportation has to come from elsewhere, which usually means nowhere.
The other is habit. We Southerners love our wheels. Most of us would rather be alone in a car, even stuck in standstill traffic, than sharing space with our fellow travelers on the swiftest and most comfortable express train.
So even if we managed to come up with the money to expand Georgia’s high-speed inter- and intrastate rail service, the question remains: Will enough Georgians use it often enough to make the investment worthwhile?
We could get a clue a little more than a year from now: A referendum on the August 12 primary ballot asks Georgians to assess themselves a 1-cent sales tax that would draw federal matching funds for transportation needs other than roads, including high-speed rail.
Old habits die hard, and that probably goes double for our transportation habits. But by now we have more than enough proof we can’t pave our way out of gridlock. Sitting stalled in traffic, whether we’re on a 10-mile commute to work or a 200-mile drive to another city, is a poor excuse for independence, and no kind of energy independence at all.
— Online: ledger-enquirer.com