Get to know TSPLOST: A primer for public input


There has been a lot of talk about TSPLOST—the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. But do you really know what it all means? We’re here to help.

In dollars, it’s $105 million (Athens-Clarke County estimate) collected through a 1% sales tax. A portion of this money (~30%) will be dedicated to projects previously approved by MACORTS, and/or projects in Winterville and Bogart. The majority (~70%) will be used to fund select transportation-related projects across Athens-Clarke County that have been reviewed by a citizens’ advisory committee appointed by the Mayor and Commission.

Now, it’s time for the Mayor and Commission, as well as residents, to weigh in. At this stage, the debate about projects and funding amounts is literally a zero-sum game. If the Mayor and Commission add or increase funding for a particular project, that amount will be taken from another project. (See all the project proposals.)

For those of you keeping score at home:

  • 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 13: Mayor and Commission work session on the Planning Department Auditorium. Our elected officials will discuss the recommendations from the citizens’ advisory committee.
  • 6 p.m. June 20: Mayor and Commission agenda setting session at City Hall. Public input may be given, and this is the time to speak up about your most (or least) favorite project.
  • 6 p.m. July 5: Regular meeting of the Mayor and Commission. This is another opportunity for public input.
  • 6 p.m. Aug. 1: Regular meeting of the Mayor and Commission; vote on the final list of projects and funding amounts.

In November, look for TSPLOST on the ballot as a sales tax referendum requiring citizens to cast a yes or no vote on the package as a whole.

We want you to be informed, which is why we’ve created this handy list of TSPLOST projects recommended by the citizen’s advisory committee. Take some time to look through them, and let your commissioner know how you feel. These projects—culled from proposals totaling more than $250 million!—could have a big impact on Athens-Clarke County for years to come, so it’s important we get this right.

 

Project 1: Airport Capital Improvements Program (CIP) Matching Funds

The TSPLOST funding is requested to provide the local matching funds required for these projects. The projects generally include Runway/ Taxiway Reconstruction/ Rehabilitation/ Improvements, Apron Paving, Terminal Improvements and other airport pavement maintenance.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This is the only airport project on the list; possibility of leveraging local dollars for Federal and State funding.
       

        Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request        $1,531,000

Potential GDOT Matching Funding     $5,500,000
Potential FAA Matching Funding         $24,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact          $0
Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $1,531,000

 

Project 5: Transit Vehicle Replacement and Spare Vehicle Program

Project will purchase new alternatively powered buses to replace existing vehicles that have reached the end of useful life and/or vehicles to support current expanded Transit services

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This gives us new hybrid-electric or similar alt-fuel buses by 2024; improves service/efficiency by not relying on older/less reliable buses.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $13,287,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $0

 

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $9,167,000

 

Project 6: Bus Stop & Transfer Facilities Improvements

Project includes transit related improvements for the purchase of right-of-way or use of existing right-of-way and construction of decentralized transfer facilities outside of the downtown terminal.

Also for the capital improvements of signage (static and/or electronic predictive arrival), concrete pads, seating, covered shelters over the paved pad, landscaping, lighting, route information, bicycle racks, trash cans, bus pull-offs, restroom facilities, bus/customer parking and other related bus stop improvements, as deemed appropriate by location.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This means improved signage, seating, pad pavement, covered shelters, bike racks, landscaping, route info, etc. increases convenience and comfort for transit users. Likely to increase ridership.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $4,500,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $50,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $3,375,000

 

Project 9: Oconee Rivers Greenway

Project includes the completion of the Mayor and Commission previously approved SPLOST 2011 sub-projects that require additional funding for completion.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This includes connecting 2011 SPLOST trail work and completing the section of MLK between East Broad and North Ave, and an important connection under the Oak/Oconee bridge.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $25,167,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $362,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $12,000,000

 

Project 10: Firefly Trail

Project includes the Design and construction of an approximate 7 mile trail from the intersection of Old Winterville Road and Little Oak Street to the project’s eastern terminus at the county line in Winterville, as well as ROW acquisition for the trail corridor.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This includes a new bridge over Trail Creek and continues the network to county line.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $25,022,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $362,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $16,752,000

 

Project 16: Hwy. 29 Corridor Transit Service

Project includes extending Athens Transit bus service along the Hwy 29 corridor. The extension would be approximately 4.6 miles (2.3 miles each way) and it would constitute a stand-alone route. The route would extend from the Kroger to Ingles grocery store (just north of the Clarke/Madison County line).

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This badly needed route has been identified in every transit study to date; it will connect a significant number of residents to fresh food and more.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $940,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $230,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $940,000

 

Project 21: Sidewalk Jefferson River Road

Project includes for the design, right of way acquisition, and construction of a 5-foot wide standard sidewalk along Jefferson River Road between Old Jefferson Road and Garnett Ridge Drive, likely along the East side of roadway, although this could vary with construction considerations, right-of-way availability, etc. Construction would also include installing the necessary concrete for future improvements of the bus stops located along the route of the sidewalk.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: A badly needed sidewalk in an underserved area.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $1,445,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $1,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $1,445,000

 

Project 23: Pavement Rehabilitation

Project provides funding to perform the necessary preventive maintenance and rehabilitation activities for the local roadway system reconstruction.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: As is, this appears to be autocentric. With a robust Complete Streets implementation policy in place, this could result in making our streets safer for all users. ACC has taken steps to improve in Complete Streets implementation, but has a ways to go.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $25,598,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $5,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $25,598,000

 

Project 27: Transportation Technology Improvements Program

Project includes the design, procurement and installation of Advanced Traffic Management Systems (ATMS) including variable message signs, video detection equipment, and fiber optic interconnected traffic signals to help guide motorist along roadways in ACC. ATMS allows for an increase in the available capacity of the existing roadway without the need to physically widen roads.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: This proposal is autocentric; it helps most for big events and rush hour.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $2,627,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $15,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $1,427,000

 

Project 28: Bicycle Improvement Program

The specific improvements routes for the bicycle projects will be as contained in the 2017 Bicycle / Pedestrian Master Plan as approved by M&C. These projects will be developed jointly with representatives from the local bicycle community and reviewed and approved by the Mayor and Commission.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: We believe that the Bike/Ped Master Plan will be a watershed moment in ACC, if it get funding for implementation.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $10,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $1,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $7,500,000

 

Project 29: Pedestrian Improvement Program

The specific locations for the pedestrian improvements are unknown at this time. Typical projects are a minimum of five feet in width and provide for ADA ramps at all intersections.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: These improvements will be based on the results of Bike/Ped Master Plan—which is why Project 28 is imperative!

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $15,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $2,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $11,250,000

 

Project 33: Lexington Hwy. Corridor Improvements

Project includes funding for specific improvements to the [Lexington Hwy] Corridor that are to be approved by M&C. Improvements eligible for the funding include, but are not limited to: landscaped/concrete median(S), additional sidewalks, multi-use trail, separated bike lanes, and intersection improvements at Winterville Rd, Gaines School Road, and Whit Davis Road.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: We’ve been talking about improving our “Gateway” corridors for over 20 years. If we really want to improve these gateway avenues, we need to develop a vision and follow through with implementation. Intersections improvements are not enough to revitalize these streets.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request                           $5,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $1,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $4,000,000

 

Project 34: Atlanta Hwy. Corridor Improvements

Project includes funding for specific improvements to the Atlanta Highway Corridor that are to be approved by M&C. Improvements eligible for the funding include, but are not limited to, landscaped/concrete median(s), additional sidewalks, multi-use trail, separated bike lanes, and potential intersection improvements.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: If we really want to improve these gateway avenues, we need to develop a vision and follow through with implementation. Intersections improvements are not enough to revitalize these streets.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $5,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $1,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $4,000,000

 

Project 35: Prince Avenue Corridor Improvements

Project includes funding for specific improvements to the Prince Avenue Corridor that are to be approved by M&C. Improvements eligible for the funding include, but are not limited to, landscaped/concrete median(s), additional sidewalks, multi-use trail, separated bike lanes, and intersection improvements at N. Milledge Ave., King Avenue, and Park Avenue / Talmadge Drive.

Complete Streets Athens’ take: Providing visual cues for the changing nature of the street would slow traffic and increase bike/ped comfort levels—this is good for business! Funds could be used to implement recommendations of GDOT’s Road Safety Audit.

Estimated Costs:
TSPLOST 2018 Project Request $5,000,000
Estimated Annual Operating Impact $1,000

Citizen’s Advisory Committee recommendation   $4,000,000