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With T-SPLOST Vote a Week Away, a Visit From Atlanta's Ghosts

With just a week to go until the cacophony of the T-SPLOST debate (mercifully) ends, Atlanta has a prescient piece on the series of bad choices and compromises that landed the metro area's transportation infrastructure in its current sorry state. The tropes will be familiar to native long-time Atlanta residents- racism; short-term thinking; the love affair with the car; and real estate developers' influence over state lawmakers, to name a few. But the author (and many others) view the failure to extend MARTA into all of the key Atlanta suburbs as the genesis of the region's problems. MARTA's short shrift was driven substantially by racism, with the selective location of the rail system's lines enforcing a kind of segregation that occurred with "white flight" out of Atlanta in the wake of the Civil Rights movement. But the resentment of Atlanta by the rest of the state- which still exists and remains as befuddling as ever- played a substantial part as well, assuring funding would be a chronic problem. In putting the stakes of the T-SPLOST vote in context with fateful decisions made in the 60's and 70's, one of the experts interviewed for the article offers a stark choice: “[i]f the vote fails, you have to accept the fact that Atlanta will continue to decline as a metro area.”

· Where It All Went Wrong [Atlanta magazine]