Where The Gas Tax Money Goes

Wondering how Georgia’s gas tax money is used? Another slide from a recent presentation, this one showing how our gas tax funds will be spent in FY2014. (This chart does not include federal funds.)

FY14 Motor Fuel

Of note, Georgia will spend half as much paying off old bonds ($146 million) as it will on new projects ($273 million). And only 1 in 5 state gas tax dollars will go toward maintaining our existing roads.

Three Siblings

From a recent presentation, a comparison of MARTA to its sister systems WMATA (Washington D.C.) and BART (San Francisco).

Tale of Three Transit Systems

The Value of C-Tran

What was the value of transit service in Clayton County? A Georgia Tech student studied that.

The hedonic regression pricing model determined that the property value decreases $1.66 for every foot one moves away from a C-Tran station for homes sold after the year 2000. This means that a property a half mile away from the station is valued $2,191 less than one a quarter mile away from a station.

An additional analysis was conducted to see if distance had any impact on assessed property values for properties sold prior to 2000 when C-Tran was announced. This hedonic regression pricing model shows that the property value increases $1.80 for every foot one moves away from a C-Tran station. This means that a property a half mile away from the station is $2,376 more than one a quarter mile away from a station. This shows that C-Tran did have an impact on property values and therefore, did create a positive economic effect in Clayton County.

A Case Study of the Elimination of C-Tran in Clayton County, Georgia” by Lucrecia Martinez, School of City and Regional Planning, Georgia Institute of Technology (April 2011).


Parking Policy From A Sitcom

Atlantic Cities has a Seinfeld-themed survey of recent research on the benefits of appropriately pricing the cost of parking in urban areas.

The article finds that using price to calibrate parking supply and demand is beneficial in three respects.  First, it eases congestion by reducing the number of drivers cruising for free parking spots. Second, it incentivizes transit use by forcing drivers to internalize the cost of driving. And third, correctly pricing parking provides additional revenue, both directly through the parking charge itself and indirectly by encouraging development of parking lots into something more valuable.

The idea of a parking tax in the City of Atlanta has been thoroughly studied and its benefits comprehensively documented.  Changing the public’s perception of parking from an entitlement to a commodity will not be easy.  But revolutionizing transportation and land use in Atlanta, recently deemed the most sprawling city in the country, will require leaders willing to push revolutionary ideas.

Deaths Down, And Up

The Georgia Department of Transportation and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety announced that 1,186 people were killed as a result of crashes on state roads in 2013. That total is 13 less than in 2012 and 562 fewer than the record of 1,748 in 2005. GDOT data shows that the drop is part of a longer trend in declining fatalities on the state’s roadways.

GDOT Fatality Chart

However, the reduction in fatalities is well short of the Department’s goal to reduce traffic deaths by 41 per year.  The announcement also notes that bicyclist fatalities were up from 19 to 26 (36%), and pedestrian fatalities increased from 167 to 178 (6%).

The release identifies a number of design elements that the Department is using to reduce traffic fatalities such as roundabout intersections, rumble strips, reflective signage and striping, and center median cable barriers.  These roadway design improvements compliment the increasing prevalence of crash avoidance systems, airbags, and other technologies to make our vehicles safer.  In combination, these improvements reduce fatalities in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions both by avoiding accidents and by making the resulting injuries less severe.

However, these technologies do not reduce the severity of a vehicle-to-bicycle or vehicle-to-pedestrian collisions.  Instead, the key to reducing bicycle and pedestrian deaths is to limit the interaction of these vulnerable users with higher speed vehicles. As the following graphic from PEDS illustrates, a pedestrian’s chances of surviving a vehicle strike decrease dramatically as the speed of the car increases.


Recent years have seen a steady increase in the number of bicyclists using Georgia’s roadways, a trend that is likely to continue with the installation of more bicycle lanes and the inception of a bicycle sharing program.  Likewise, development has increasingly shifted toward building walkable, pedestrian-friendly communities.  Reversing the recent increase in bicycle and pedestrian fatalities will require finding ways to separate walkers and bikers from higher speed vehicles despite more of these vulnerable users being on the roads.

As the release notes, implementing GDOT’s Complete Streets policy in a thoughtful, effective manner will provide a framework for beginning to reduce bike/ped fatalities. But we also need to place reductions in bike/ped deaths on equal footing with reductions in vehicular fatalities.  Accordingly, GDOT should set separate annual goals for pedestrian and bicyclist deaths and track them on the Department’s Performance Dashboard.