Anytime I have a promotion hanging in the balance I like to do something that will guarantee I don’t get it (and it worked). This year I decided to weigh in on the current “public-private initiative” for a private company to finance and build improvements to SR 316 to Athens. They would pay for this by charging tolls and it would cost something like $8 to drive from Atlanta to Athens using SR 316. If you want, you can still comment on this proposal (for two more weeks), but only if you agree with me. I wrote, not as a DOT employee, but a guy whose brother and family live in Athens. I sent it to the Commissioner of the DOT but found out later that it was supposed to go to firstname.lastname@example.org who is the Chief Engineer (and my boss’ boss’ boss’ boss). They sent me a nice form letter a few days later. I also cc’d the e-mail to my State Representative. I sent the e-mail on a Saturday (not at work) and within a few hours she had responded by e-mail and said she would bring it up when she met with the DOT board the following week. She also asked if I supported a higher gas tax and I replied “Of course!”
Dear Commissioner Linnenkohl,
I am writing as a tax-paying voter in Georgia to express my opposition to any private-public partnership that takes away roads that are currently free and replaces them with toll roads. In particular, I am opposed to the proposal to convert SR 316 into a toll road even though the current roadway was built using (a lot of) taxpayer money and is currently free today.
If a private group would like to add lanes and charge for those and there are no state funds available for such improvements, then I might feel differently (though if there is a pressing need for any route in Georgia I would have to seriously wonder why the DOT can not provide it). But it is just wrong to take away lanes so that a private group can start charging a toll to use a facility that the taxpayers already paid for.
Thank you for your consideration on this matter.