GARP blasts "Great Train Robbery"
Posted 23 April 2006 - 12:28 AM
P.O. Box 851
Decatur, GA 30031
GEORGIA RAIL PASSENGER GROUP BLASTS "GREAT TRAIN ROBBERY"
April 21, 2006
For immediate release
A state passenger train advocacy group is characterizing a behind-the-scenes political maneuver in the General Assembly as "the great train robbery."
The Georgia Association of Railroad Passengers (GARP) reacted angrily to news of an unpublicized, last-minute alteration to the state budget that barred the Department of Transportation from spending any money on commuter rail without explicit legislative approval.
"The highway lobby and its supporters fought throughout the session to sabotage commuter rail," said GARP President Steve Vogel. "But when their attempts to work through the normal, public legislative process failed, they resorted to backroom political trickery."
"Even if you agree that the legislature should sign off on commuter rail spending, this 11th-hour requirement -- added just before adjournment -- was obviously timed to come to light too late for legislators to grant that approval." said Vogel. "It was a blatant move to block commuter train service for at least a year, by people who didn't want the public to know what they were doing until it was too late."
Vogel says that while the measure apparently was aimed at stalling Atlanta-Lovejoy commuter train service, it will set back plans for Atlanta-Athens service and other commuter train routes too.
"At a time when gasoline prices are soaring, supplies are declining, and spot shortages are being reported," said Vogel, "Georgians deserve to know why shadowy forces in the General Assembly are so determined to deny them any alternative to driving."
GARP is an independent, grassroots non-profit organization that advocates rail service as part of a balanced passenger transportation system for Georgia.
OTOL Board Leader
Posted 27 April 2006 - 12:09 AM
Last week, it came to light that a wayward legislator almost robbed Georgia of our first commuter rail: a train line from Atlanta to Lovejoy, GA, a very exciting change for traffic-weary Georgians. Join Sierra Club, Citizens for Progressive Transit, GARP and others for a press conference this Thursday:
Thursday, April 27, 2006
11:45 am - 12:45 pm
GA state capitol steps/Washington St. side
All supporters of more trains in Georiga are needed!
Join us in calling on the Governor to veto the Georgia Train Robbery clause in the budget - a deal done behind closed doors and to show public support for Georgia's first commuter rail line. We have the state funds. We have the federal funds. Let's get the train on the tracks! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 607-1262, ext 226 with questions.
OTOL Board Leader
Posted 28 April 2006 - 01:38 PM
Supporters of Georgia’s First Commuter Rail Line Call On Gov to Move Project Forward
[Atlanta, GA] Commuter rail supporters, as broad based as Clayton County Commissioners, Gwinnett County Republicans and the Sierra Club, gathered Thursday on the steps of the state capitol to urge the Georgia Department of Transportation to move forward with plans for the first commuter rail line in Georgia. Last week, it was discovered that a legislator secretly inserted language in the state budget to delay purchasing commuter rail. However, the state’s Attorney General has said the language should not apply. The groups urged Governor Perdue to issue a line-item veto over the language and move the project forward.
Georgia Department of Transportation Board member Emory McClinton called on his fellow Board members to pursue the opportunity for commuter rail. He was joined by fellow DOT Board member and longtime commuter rail supporter Dana Lemon.
Emory Morsberger, chairman of the Georgia Brain Train Group, also called on the Governor to veto the secretly inserted language. Morsberger disclosed results of a poll showing that Gwinnett County Republicans support commuter rail in greater percentages than other Gwinnett residents. Morsberger, a Republican, called this evidence that commuter rail is a bipartisan issue.
“Governor Perdue should veto the effort to dismantle plans for traffic-reducing, clean commuter options for Georgia. And the Department of Transportation should move forward with Georgia’s first commuter rail,” said Lee Biola, president of Citizen’s for Progressive Transit.
The attempt to de-rail the commuter rail plans is a double loss for traffic-weary Georgians; $87 million in federal money is earmarked to build the initial leg of the commuter rail system and cannot be used for any other purpose. The elected leaders of Clayton County have agreed to cover any operations losses. Norfolk Southern has agreed to allow the use of its tracks and the City of Atlanta has agreed to turn over $1 million in property to the project.
“Georgians are ready for transportation alternatives,” said Patty Durand, the director of Georgia’s Sierra Club, “Gas prices are on the rise and are expected to hit $4.00 a gallon this summer. How high do gas prices have to go before the state takes advantage of this opportunity to invest in commuter rail? This project was ready to roll before someone created a train wreck behind closed doors in the process in the final days of the General Assembly. Governor Perdue has the ability to get the train on the tracks.
The secretiveness of the author of the language raised the ire of the groups who called this the “Great Georgia Train Robbery,” and issued a WANTED poster calling for accountability in the backroom deal.
OTOL Board Leader
Posted 28 April 2006 - 01:45 PM
The opinions are here.
OTOL Board Leader
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