Truman Parkway Takes Its "Toll?"

posted by Bill Edwards -

It took less than two years to build the Empire State Building in New York City and it was done during the "Great Depression" and it was finished ahead of time and under budget.  Here in Savannah it too us 20 years and numerous delays and some re-routing because of an eagle's nest to build about 9-plus miles of the Truman Parkway which, if memory serves me correctly, wasn't supposed to end at Abercorn but was suppose to go all the way out to I-95.  God only knows what cost over-runs were encountered but it's only money...your money, of course so who cares?  The best money our government ever spent was the "Temporary End" sign that DOT had to move several times as the phases were completed--gotta lot of use out of that "baby!"  And the only reason I've ever been able to figure out why we named the road after President Harry Truman is that the project started when Harry was still president! But I digress.  

The road was finally completed using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, from 2103.  So now the city and county (cooperating again?) say they need to find ways to continually funding the road.  And if you don't think that the Truman has helped alleviate traffic jams in this town, you obviously were not here when it was closed down last winter for a couple of days.  Most of our streets became parking lots.  I've never seen traffic backed up from Abercorn all the way down Stephenson to Waters--till then!  But here's the problem--no one ever seems to think long-term in this town.  Did it not occur to the :"powers that be" that SPLOST money could run out?  How did they plan to fund it beyond the first five years?  

My beloved step-father, Henry Jenkins, was in paving and construction for most of his life when he was appointed an assistant city manager when J. C. Lewis was elected mayor in the mid 1960s.  At that time the city was planning Abercorn Extention.  As they were making those grand plans Henry had to throw a monkey wrench into the works by asking a simple question: "What are you going to do about all the traffic when you get to Victory Drive?"  And he made things even worse for these "dreamers" by insisting they add frontage roads they finally put in once they got past Montgomery Crossroad.  

Future planning seems to be absent all these years later.  City Manager Rob Hernandez (the father of the Fire 'Fee'") has suggested turning the Truman into a toll road.  City spokeswoman Michelle Gavin brushed that idea off by saying it was just "big picture brainstorming."  I'm sure the fire fee was once BPB (big picture brainstorming" and look where we are now.  Gavin is quoted in Eric Curl's article as saying, "We still need to come back to the table to come up with a long-term solution." Furthermore she says, "There's nothing on the table at this point about a toll road."  Glad to hear it!  Meanwhile, the city and county have been working together for Chatham County to take responsibility for a portion of the road like Phases I and II since, as Hernandez says, "Phases I and II are a burden upon the taxpayers of both the city and county."  It's a regional benefit after all.  

Both parties are in negotiations but the Chatham County, in agreement with the city, are proposing Chatham maintaing phases 3-through-5 covering from DeRenne to Abercorn Extension (Ga. 204).  Those duties would cover mowing (glad to hear that, haven't seen much of it so far), litter control, roadway repairs, signage and paving.  And Hernandez has even proposed to County Manager Lee Smith that we could merge the State Road and Tollway Authority--and we know how well city-county mergers work out, don't we?--or even creating an independent expressway authority.  

Great!  More government promises.  "Come into my parlor said the spider to the fly."  We know how perishable government promises are.  When I got my Social Security card and number (you had to apply for them when you went to work in those days) it said CLEARLY at the bottom Not for identification.  When Congress started the Food Stamp in the 1950s they PROMISED it wouldn't cost more than $64m which is now in the double-digit billions now far outpacing inflation. When they passed the hideous progressive Income Tax bill they PROMISED it would NEVER exceed 3-percent!!!   And...by the way...Congress never put in a cap of any kind--in other words they gave themselves the authority to take all your money!  Right now be thankful they're taking only about half of it!  So remember when the government  (on any level) tells you about "Plan A" the don't tell you about their "Plan B" which we find out about once implemented.  

Trusting the government to do what they say they're going to do is like playing Russian Roulette with five chambers loaded instead of one.  There's an excellent chance the gun will go off the first time you play.  How much more do you think the new Civic Center is REALLY going to cost and when will they come crying "poor mouth" to us about upkeep?  Go ahead and hold your breath because it'll happen long before you pass out!

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Bill Edwards

Bill Edwards

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