Transportation SPLOST would face uphill battle to pass in Henry County

Pie chart showing transportation SPLOST survey results (Google photo)

Moving Henry Forward recently asked blog followers to participate in a short survey offering their impression on a possible transportation SPLOST in Henry County. The survey’s two-hundred responses suggest passing T-SPLOST would be unlikely.

If passed by voters, a transportation SPLOST would increase the local sales tax rate from seven to eight percent. All collections would be required by state law to be spent on transportation projects.

Opponents of the program were the largest group with 41.5% of respondents answering they would strongly vote no on the referendum. An additional 15% lean towards voting no.

17.5% would strongly vote yes and 18.5% lean towards voting yes. Considered together, 36% would not be a majority to pass the referendum. Finally, 7.5% are undecided or preferred not to answer.

Selecting Projects

Residents were split on how the potential proceeds should be allocated. 49.3% answered the funds should be spent on the largest needs while 35.8% favored dividing the funds by commission district. 14.9% were undecided or preferred not to answer.

Seventy-three percent selected the commissioners should work with the cities when developing a project list. 14.6% selected “do not work with the cities” and 12.4% were undecided or preferred not to answer.

A similar majority (72.8%) opted that if Henry County were to pursue a transportation SPLOST, the county should consider a five-year program. Georgia law allows metro Atlanta counties to consider either a five-year all-purpose transportation SPLOST or a transit only sales tax that can last up to thirty years.

A small 4.4% favor the transit only sales tax with 22.8% undecided or preferred not to answer.

Project Categories

A strong divide emerged when respondents were asked which types of projects should receive funding. The survey asked respondents to rank the categories on a scale of zero to five, with zero representing no funding, one representing the lowest priority, and five representing the highest priority.

Respondents generally support funding for major road widening projects and new roadways, road maintenance & resurfacing, and intersection improvement projects. Other categories scored poorly.

Category Number of Fives Number of Zeros Average
Major Road Widening Projects and New Roadways 88 22 3.34
Road Maintenance and Resurfacing 99 8 3.77
Intersection Improvement Projects 56 16 3.20
Dirt Road Paving Projects 16 61 1.64
Pedestrian Access & Sidewalks 25 44 1.99
Greenway Trails & Paths 21 69 1.63
Regional Transit 7 81 1.23
Local Transit 10 105 1.01

Source: T-SPLOST Survey

Little support for Public Transit projects

A final question on the survey asked respondents if funding for public transit projects should be included within the potential transportation SPLOST. The results continued the low support for transit shown above in the categorical ranking.

56.6% of respondents selected “do not include transit projects” while 8.7% were undecided or preferred not to answer. Transit projects were broken into two subcategories: regional transit, consisting of park and ride lots and commuter bus service to Atlanta, and local transit, consisting of fixed bus routes and expanding the existing on-demand transit service.

14.3% of respondents selected “include regional transit projects” followed by 11.7% that selected “include both regional and local transit projects.” Finally, 8.7% selected “include local transit projects.”

What People are Saying

Moving Henry Forward included the option for comments as the last portion of the survey. Here’s some of what people are saying.

General
  • “Our transportation issues [cannot] be met by relying on the small portion of our property taxes that [do not] go to the school system.”
  • “Roads are full of potholes and bridges are falling apart, but the commissioners are pouring taxpayer money into non-essentials.”
  • “T-SPLOST may be the way to go since Henry County is years behind on its road improvement projects.”
  • “How many times must citizens vote NO to T-SPLOST? I will campaign against it.”
Roadways and Traffic Congestion
  • “Fixing and widening our roads and intersections should be [the] number one priority over anything else in the county!”
  • “We need traffic relief before any other fluff projects like sidewalks, parks, convention center etc… I will vote no if a T-Splost is anything other than road improvements.”
  • “Let’s do something about all the traffic on [state route] 155.” Editor’s note: Georgia DOT has $122 million dollars budgeted to widen state route 155, starting with phase I between I-75 and US 23 / SR 42. The project is in preliminary engineering with construction estimated to start in fall 2023.
  • “Access roads along [the] I-75 corridor could alleviate a lot of traffic on the interstate.”
Pedestrian Access, Sidewalks, and Greenway Trails
  • “We do not have any trails to access for the majority of the county and there [are not] enough sidewalks… Walking trails and sidewalks / roads should be a main priority over many of the projects approved [in] SPLOST.”
  • “Sidewalks are not as important as it is to widen the roads and pave the dirt roads.” Editor’s note: new sidewalks are often constructed as part of major road widening projects.
  • “I would park my vehicle and walk more to the store if I had sidewalks.”
Public Transit
  • “I am not opposed to mass or regional transit in the long run, but we need to fix our infrastructure before worrying about how to get people from Henry County to Atlanta.”
  • “We need routes that get people to work.”
  • “Don’t waste our tax dollars on public transport.”
  • “No public transit please!”

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