Trolley study is mostly praised

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The Downtown Development Authority's plan to spend $37,000 in special-purpose sales-tax money for a trolley study received mostly positive reviews from Augusta commissioners Monday.

"I think if we do something like this it will put us on the cutting edge," said Mayor Pro Tem Betty Beard. "This would be a tremendous beginning."

Commissioner Calvin Holland said it is what he calls "thinking outside the box."

But Commissioner Jerry Brigham had questions about long-term costs.

"We know the city of Atlanta has the MARTA tax to underwrite public transit," he said. "Augusta doesn't have a MARTA tax. How are we going to fund the long-term costs of operations? That's the real question."

The Augusta transit system already loses about $4 million a year, and that loss is covered by transfers from the general fund that come mainly from property taxes.

The authority's executive director, Margaret Woodard, said a trolley could help revitalize downtown Augusta by promoting economic development on its route.

"Twenty to 30 times what you invest in a trolley is going to come back in re-development," she said. "Little Rock's return on investment was 920 percent. Developers want to develop along the line for two reasons. No. 1, it shows a real commitment by the city to invest in some type of transportation that's energy-efficient, and No. 2, they don't have to build parking as much as they would."

The 4.5-mile light rail track would run on Broad Street, along part of the Augusta Canal and up 15th Street to the Medical College of Georgia complex, with the expectation that people would ride it downtown for lunch.

Commissioner Don Grantham proposed a 60- to 90-day trial of that concept using a bus, but transit planner Uriah Lewis said that had been tried before and didn't work due to traffic in the area around Harper Street.

Fifty percent of the money to build the track, estimated to cost between $50 million and $175 million, could be paid for with money from the federal Small Starts programs and the private sector, Ms. Woodard said.

In addition, it could possibly be powered by the Augusta Canal, making it the first such trolley system in the country, she said.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 823-3228 or sylvia.cooper@augustachronicle.com.

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formatrix
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formatrix 07/08/08 - 02:58 am
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Another hare-brained scheme

Another hare-brained scheme out of a bottomless bag of bad ideas. There is no limit to their stlupidity. It truly boggles the mind. Have a nice day.

sick of taxes
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sick of taxes 07/08/08 - 05:07 am
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Just how long do the clowns

Just how long do the clowns on the DDA think that folks have for "lunch"? Maybe at the outside one hour. That certainly is not long enough to go anywhere. These DDA folks need to get a life. That is not thinking "outside the box", that is thinking in a fanatasy world.

fd1962
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fd1962 07/08/08 - 06:32 am
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Just look at how many trees,
Unpublished

Just look at how many trees, flower beds. and parking spaces could be eliminated building these golden tracks...

christian134
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christian134 07/08/08 - 06:32 am
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No matter how many studies

No matter how many studies Augusta Authority generates it will not help Augusta recover from it's downward slide into decay and ugliness...They may as well take the money and set fire to it for all it accomplishes...:-)

fd1962
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fd1962 07/08/08 - 06:44 am
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Can't you just imagine all
Unpublished

Can't you just imagine all the courteous commuters at 15th and Walton Way yielding right of way to a lumbering trolly car? At least it would be heading towards the emergency room half of the time.

jgdarling
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jgdarling 07/08/08 - 06:48 am
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Project would be mostly

Project would be mostly federally funded. Why let all our tax money go to Atlanta and Athens? It's worth studying.

fd1962
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fd1962 07/08/08 - 06:54 am
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We heartily endorse this
Unpublished

We heartily endorse this fertile project. Signed, Jackson Massey, John Mixon, and Ken Nugent.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 07/08/08 - 07:08 am
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Nostalgia. How can anyone

Nostalgia. How can anyone justify spending even one of my tax dollars for such a hairbrained idea. Do you know why there EVER was a trolley system in Augusta? Because it was owned and operated by the power company for profit, not by the city for nostalgic lunches. It went up Walton Way to Summerville and down the middle of Broad Street connecting people with their businesses and their homes. It replaced the huge corral that was located down the middle of Broad Street for leaving your horses and mules while you WORKED, not while you had lunch. Please, please, please don't fall for these dollar sucking ideas. This is not thinking outside the box. If you want to do that, then consider giving tax moratoriums to property owners it they will tear down their dilapidated un-inhabitable structures so that someone else can build new. Think FORWARD not BACKWARDS!!!

devilishlymad67
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devilishlymad67 07/08/08 - 07:25 am
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instead of tearing down

instead of tearing down history, give tax credits to people to fix up the buildings. Part of downtown's problems are the ugly, out of place buildings, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the marble castle and the library. Clean out the projects in the surrounding area so that law abiding, tax paying citizens are safe. Bring in stores that actually carry merchandise that is well made and have appeal to the demographic that has money.

stewartist
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stewartist 07/08/08 - 07:31 am
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Remember when Port Royal was

Remember when Port Royal was first built? Everyone was "OOhhh"..."Ahhh", but look at it now. Remember when our River Walk thrived with people...look at it now (if you want to get mugged) ..look at the (waste of money) Golf and Garden's...and now they want to build a Trolley system...Come On Augusta Downtown Development, spend the money where it is really needed.

ghughes51
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ghughes51 07/08/08 - 07:35 am
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Anyone ever been to San

Anyone ever been to San Antonio? They have a wheeled trolly system and it works just fine. You don't have to invest in tracks, just the trolly. This way the cost is reduced. If the project doesn't work out, the trolly can be reworked and used elsewhere.

stewartist
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stewartist 07/08/08 - 07:42 am
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Oh...if it doesn't

Oh...if it doesn't work....well, we'll spend $$$ hundreds of thousands of dollars and if it doesn't work..Oh well..it's not our money..Right? Come on Man!!!

LaTwon
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LaTwon 07/08/08 - 07:47 am
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gimmeee 25 000 dollars and

gimmeee 25 000 dollars and here is your study conclusion

that is stupid.............. 920% = 9.2 times not 20 to 30 times.
where are you going to develop along this route? canal banks?
u give me 175mil and i will have lemos do the route. remember the horse barn on broad and mounted police and carriages in the 90's? wasnt that sweet? u want r c to thrive? more police safety and education. i know people who have refused to move here because of the schools. if they have to move here they go to c c . 175 mil to ride people from mcg to downtown is absolutely crazy.

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 07/08/08 - 07:50 am
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Let the restaurants on Broad

Let the restaurants on Broad Street pay for a trolley system. If it is designed to bring them lunch business, let them run it and pay for it. Just like the power company did almost a century ago. And as for tax credits for fixing up old buildings, those exist now. Tear them down. Pennys, Davidsons, Woolworths. These were the big box stores that probably put many a small business out of business and now their carcasses deter new investment. For downtown to work 7 days a week, it has to do more than feed people lunch. That is why I suggested the idea of putting the Judicial Center on Broad St. Spend the tax money proactively, not nostalgically. If I were King, I would disband the Hysterical Society and the DDA, today, and I would give property owners a good reason to rebuild.

bone
23
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bone 07/08/08 - 07:58 am
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this project will NOT be

this project will NOT be mostly federally funded, darling. "Fifty percent of the money to build the track, estimated to cost between $50 million and $175 million, could be paid for with money from the federal Small Starts programs and the private sector" - seems to me that RC residents will be paying for the rest. anyone smell a tax increase???

stillamazed
1488
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stillamazed 07/08/08 - 08:24 am
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Such cinical remarks, why is

Such cinical remarks, why is it that everytime someone wants to do something positive to build up the downtown area there are always people who want to cut it down. Perhaps it will be good for downtown and yes there is a problem with crime but maybe they will need to put more deputies on duty in those areas. I see no reason why our downtown can't compete with the odwntown areas of other cities like Savannah, Augusta is rich in history and that history should be played up to attract more people into the area.

LaTwon
1
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LaTwon 07/08/08 - 08:31 am
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take the 175 mil and buy

take the 175 mil and buy harrisburg and tear it down....... from walton way to the river. then upgrade the streets and sell lots and get some of the thousands of people that work in the hospital district moving back into town. then put in bike paths from forest hills to downtown. you may just make a profit...........
it just gets weirder everyday. one day we are broke and the next it is ball parks, white water rapids, dragstrips, canals down ellis,
trolley cars, etc etc etc............ when gasoline reaches 6 dollars a gallon, the middle class will not be driving downtown after their daily trek to work. if u do not get them back now they are gone for good............evans will have them all. and you can probably count tourism out also.

fd1962
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fd1962 07/08/08 - 08:36 am
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How about an overhead cable
Unpublished

How about an overhead cable gondola system from the roof of MCG to Broad Street? That would be quicker, more scenic, safer, and doubtless less costly to construct, plus become an immediate tourist draw.

Frank
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Frank 07/08/08 - 08:37 am
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DuhJudge must not have been

DuhJudge must not have been downtown lately, those "carcasses" referred to (Penny's is actually Whites') are already under contract and at least one of them is in the process of being completely remodeled into space for homes AND businesses.. the other two are planned for the same direction.. the quote "Fifty percent of the money to build the track, estimated to cost between $50 million and $175 million, could be paid for with money from the federal Small Starts programs and the private sector" indicates FEDERAL funding in addition to private business monies to pay for the project.. IF it even comes to fruition through all the backward minded people here..

Captain Awesome
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Captain Awesome 07/08/08 - 08:53 am
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The trolley idea does sound

The trolley idea does sound cool. I'd like to see what they come up with. Eventually we're all going to want to drive less or have fewer cars soon. I'm happy to put some of my tax dollars to it, especially if we can get federal match!

BakersfieldCityLimits
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BakersfieldCityLimits 07/08/08 - 08:57 am
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For the love of God and

For the love of God and everything that is holy, please stop paying for " studies " on parking decks, trollys, rivers through downtown...... Anyone remember the bus that looked like a trolly? They had to park it because the seats were benches and riders would slide off in the turns. This is not Europe, not many people that would be in your target audience will be willing to ride a public transport train with beggers and thugs to lunch. I can hear you now, we'll just assign a deputy to ride it all day. I tell you what, let the powers that be pick a neighborhood to go without police protection so the trolly can have one.

Captain Awesome
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Captain Awesome 07/08/08 - 08:58 am
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Only 5% of the money would

Only 5% of the money would actually be coming from the city. I think this the sort of forward planning we need. Augusta is way too dependent on cars.

Fed UP with MCG
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Fed UP with MCG 07/08/08 - 09:04 am
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Didn't Augusta have something

Didn't Augusta have something like that in the 20's and the 30's?

DuhJudge
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DuhJudge 07/08/08 - 09:05 am
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I beg to differ. I am NOT

I beg to differ. I am NOT backward minded and neither are most of these posters. Look at downtown as if it were a private investment project and it was YOUR money. First, you have to determine that the object is to turn a profit on YOUR investment. YOU can not afford to do it by YOURSELF as a hobby. Then you have to determine that YOU can make a profit on YOUR investment. That means YOU have to balance need with supply. Then YOU have to raise the money by convincing an entity with the money that lending it to YOU is a wise investment for them. Then YOU have to sell YOUR idea to tenants that are willing to pay YOU enough that YOU can make the profit YOU determined first. This is NOT backward thinking, this is common sense, capitalism focused, return seeking thinking. Olde Town was Mr. Pete Knox's hobby. After he passed, the family got out of it because it was not their hobby. Hobby investors do not last, so YOU better be wise when YOU decide to make YOUR investment.

fd1962
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fd1962 07/08/08 - 09:09 am
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Capt. Awesome, I guess if you
Unpublished

Capt. Awesome, I guess if you actually believe only 5% of cost would be city's share, then you must also be comfortable with the accuracy of the cost estimate: "between 50 million and 175 million!" Quite a spread there... Wish I could operate my business with such voodoo estimations.

DuhJudge
206
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DuhJudge 07/08/08 - 09:36 am
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Now, there is one scenario

Now, there is one scenario where this would work. Instead of people choosing to own cars, which includes depreciation, maintenance, insurance, and gas as well as tax dollars used for road maintenace and construction, then those cost elements could be used to justify replacement transportation, such as trolleys or even high speed rail connecting Hephzibah, Blythe, Grovetown, Evans, North Augusta, and Beech Island to Augusta. And, if people decide they prefer mass transit to their private, rolling, entertainment centers, I can see it working. But not until they give up cars.

coco rubio
53
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coco rubio 07/08/08 - 10:00 am
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i'd just like to know who is

i'd just like to know who is doing the study and what is their relation to the DDA? like the canal on ellis street..this type of thing would be ok-- maybe 20 years from now for downtown.....but, there are so many other things they could spend this money on.....like getting rid of the train tracks that currently run through downtown augusta....what's up with that?......i propose a trolley type bus that runs up & down broad street....picking folks up at every block and taking them to their destinations.....this way people could park anywhere and know that the trolley would be coming around to pick them up......up & down broad street.....making u-turns on 13th & 5th street.......with an officer on board....and ads on the side of the trolley.....this could be done now.....and wouldn't involve a waste of money on a study......just my humble opinion..........see ya downtown..........love, coco

henrystripe
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henrystripe 07/08/08 - 10:14 am
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Amen, 5:00smwhr. These

Amen, 5:00smwhr. These people are trying to do something good, yet the naysayers as always are just looking for any excuse to be negative. It is, at minimum, worth looking into. However, I would give strong consideration to Coco's idea as well.

motivatedinhepzibah
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motivatedinhepzibah 07/08/08 - 10:30 am
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I told you i think augusta

I told you i think augusta could build a white water or six flags. And some people would still complain. You can't tell me if they build a trolley system. Even though i would like a high speed rail system from south augusta to west augusta to the medical district to downtown. Developers definitely would start buying up all the land and old buildings around the project. Just look at the whites building n broad its almost done. Lots of projects have came about on and off broad because of that one project. Augusta downtown is getting a library, tee center, whites building, watermark condos, conds/hotel on the common, judicial center, and a kroc center in harrisburg. Not to mention the james brown townhomes on 9th street. I rode past them the other day and they're coming along nicely. There are several young people who would love to live downtown. Only old people with familes want to live in the suburbs.

i.b.e.w..electric
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i.b.e.w..electric 07/08/08 - 11:00 am
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i think its a great

i think its a great idea,anything that would make augusta a better place to be is a plus.people visit a vibrant and beautiful city and they spend lots of money ,nobody visits a slum.

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