T-SPLOST may be dead and buried by voters in our region, but that doesn’t mean the problems that prompted its appearance on the ballot last year have gone away.
If anything, they’re not only still out there, they are only going to get worse, especially if growth returns to Coastal Georgia at anything like its former rate. That means increasingly snarled traffic, commutes that keep getting longer and more dangerous and the resulting cost in time, fortune and, unfortunately, lives.
Thanks to geography and more than a decade of fast population growth, we also are one hurricane away from an evacuation scenario that could make the mess from Hurricane Floyd in 1999 look like a walk in the park.
So how do we fix it?
The problem, in a nutshell, is a lack of adequate infrastructure. Our roads, most of which were built when there were far fewer people here, simply are not designed to handle the amount of traffic we have now — let alone what we’ll have within two decades, if U.S. Census projections of a million or more residents in the Coastal Empire by 2030 come true.
So far, the solution seems to be limited to adding more pavement and more traffic lights. Unfortunately, it can take years to get a project from the drawing board to reality, meaning by the time one is completed it may already be overwhelmed.
What seems to be lost in the process is that at some point we’re going to run out of room, or perhaps the desire is to live in a world in which every corner is tied to asphalt — but hopefully not before alternatives to pavement are found.
A commuter rail, greenways with bike paths linking communities from Hinesville and Midway to Richmond Hill and Savannah, and incentives to commuters to find alternatives to driving need to be seriously considered.
And it needs to happen now, while we have time to think about it.