24/7 Media for Macon.com Click here for The Motley Fool

Editorials for Monday, January 24, 2000    Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Weekend

Search our site


Ed Corson
R.L. Day
Charles E. Richardson
Ron Woodgeard

E-The People
Straight Talk Forums

About us
Contact us

Funding now a key issue in rail passenger line

Gov. Roy Barnes decided not to fund design and right-of-way acquisition for the top-priority Macon-Atlanta high speed rail passenger line this year. Nor to request funding for the equally high-priority Atlanta-Athens commuter rail line, nor for the initial purchase of trains.

Could that have been meant partly as a message to the three agencies involved in the projects: "Get your act together and work in concert?"

Those agencies are the Department of Transportation, the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority. When differences over which would run the show delayed preliminary studies of the Macon route, the governor appointed two board members from each of the agencies to a Project Management Team for the Georgia Rail Passenger Program .

He also named Walter "Sonny" Deriso as chairman. The Columbus-based banker is a GRTA board member. That indicated which agency would be more equal than the others in overseeing the $1.5 billion program to build and operate six commuter-rail lines and seven intercity lines.

The board has already directed the agencies' staffs to open negotiations on using existing tracks for the Atlanta-Macon link and others. But a Barnes spokesperson said Wednesday that the governor wanted to be sure the three agencies were indeed working together (before buying right of way and rolling stock for specific routes).

Right of way for the Macon line wasn't to be bought until mid-2001 anyhow, so that funding can wait. But it is important to order trains on time if the 2004 opening date is not to be delayed. It's a 30-month process from purchase to operation.

The Legislature could go ahead and fund the projects. And a strong passenger-rail champion, Rep. Terry Coleman of Eastman, chairs the House Appropriations Committee.

Indeed, Coleman and two colleagues are preparing legislation detailing the long-range, state-wide structure of the system. (A similar plan in the mid-1980s legislated the system of developmental highways now in process.) It is meant to rally statewide support for statewide service according to rational priorities. It might also motivate support for funding the projects this year.

We applaud Coleman's approach to committing the big rail passenger picture to law. We hope he will also do whatever is needed to assure that the Macon-Atlanta link, in particular, receives the funding it needs to be up and running by the target year of 2004.


Ed Corson /For the editorial board

Absentees sucking life out of oversight panel

Mayor Jack Ellis expresses appropriate concerns over the effectiveness of a citizens oversight committee on the roads program. It appears somebody needs to exercise some oversight on some of the citizens officially serving who don't bother to make the meetings. The mayor, who has the authority to appoint five of the committee's 13 members, has taken on that responsibility.

Last Thursday only six members showed up.

Attendance, or the lack of it, would seem to reflect some disenchantment over the committee's lack of clout, or perhaps it has more to do with the inconvenient 2 p.m. meeting time. CAUTION Macon members on the committee have complained about both. But it is not clear why apathy exists to such an extent, especially on an issue so volatile as the roads program has proved to be. On a panel charged to monitor and analyze the program, this should not be boring work.

But if serving has become so meaningless to some members that they can't be bothered to show up at meetings, those people should have left long ago. Ellis and his staff will be pointedly asking if they wish to continue to serve. We would hope non-participating (for whatever reason) members would voluntarily vacate rather than disguising themselves as empty chairs.

We don't know if filling vacancies with CAUTION Macon members (as the mayor may do) would help or not. Given that group's dedication more such members might energize the board; it would almost certainly help attendance. But CAUTION is an advocacy group and perhaps shouldn't be over-represented.

Yet, something has to give. Otherwise this entire committee is just one big empty chair.


R.L. Day/For the editorial board

Letters to the editors

Editorial Board
Cecil Bentley
Ron Woodgeard
R.L. Day
Ed Corson
Charles E. Richardson

General Information
(912) 744-4319

(912) 744-4385


Back to top | Back to macontelegraph.com | Send a letter to the editors


©1999 The Macon Telegraph Publishing Company. The information you receive online from macontelegraph.com is protected by the copyright laws of the United States. The copyright laws prohibit any copying, redistributing, retransmitting, or repurposing of any copyright-protected material.