I have been watching Atlanta, my former hometown and the current home of my daughter and two grandsons closely in recent years. It is so disappointing to see a city with such amazing potential, continue to fumble opportunity after opportunity.
The latest missed opportunity was the failed passing of the T-SPLOST proposal for transportation reform in the Atlanta region. This was a critical measure that could allow Atlanta to one again become the lead city of the southern United States.
One of the main issues stopping Atlanta from truly becoming a great international location is the city’s limitation of transportation options. It is shocking to me that the people of Atlanta would not be willing to spend and extra $.01 to build a better way of life.
Think of all of the economic development that would occur from Atlanta being able to offer a better transportation infrastructure. One of the key reasons that companies choose not to relocate to Atlanta is that it is simply far too much of a hassle to get around town.
I now live in NYC and am always amazed that the traffic in the Atlanta metro, an area that is four times smaller than the NYC metro, is far more disruptive and difficult to navigate.
Now let’s be clear, it is easy to understand why. For starters, Atlanta is a little late to the game in creating a denser urban core. Not too late, but late nonetheless. MARTA, their rail system, is extremely limited. Of course, trying to build every new office building or residential tower on a single street can be a bit problematic.
What really stopped the people of Atlanta from voting to enact a measure that would clearly bring benefit to a fantastic city with tremendous opportunity and potential?
Simply put, the people do not trust that the government will actually spend the money on the programs that are outlined. They do not trust that the money will be spent in a way that will actually bring the benefits that the measures are intended to create. This is a big problem not only for Atlanta, but also for our country as a whole. Our elected leaders need to stop the partisan nonsense and forget about how a decision is going to effect their re-election options. The people of our county are more than capable of finding ways to fix our problems. We first need to stop electing “talking-heads” and find leaders that are willing to make the hard decisions. We need to find leaders that we can trust.
Most of all, we, the people, need to step-up. We need to find the trust in ourselves. “Self-reliance and ambition made the United States the most powerful nation on Earth. But that ethic is now eroding fast.”
If Atlanta wants to start its growth engine again, its citizens need to find leaders that they can trust and then be willing to put their money where their mouths are. If Atlanta, simply wants someone else to magically fix and pay for its transportation issues, then I am sad to say, Atlanta is headed for a future of decline and mediocrity.