How about Rail, Chairman Olens?

  Columbus has its transportation problems,  but they are minuscule compared to those in the Atlanta area,  and to those driving to and from the Atlanta area,  which includes a lot of Columbus people, including me.  Cobb County Commission Chairman Sam Olens,  as we said yesterday,  is so concerned about the problem, he says, he may run for govenor if the state legislature doesn’t address the problem.  When he spoke to members of the Roatry Club of Columbus, he didn’t mention the governor part,  just the transportation crisis.

One thing he wants is for the state to route pass-through trucks around Atlanta,  and send them though other sections of the state.   He knows this can mean new highways,  but he thinks these highways can help development in other areas of Georgia. 

I brought up the construction nightmare on I-85 around Newnan, telling him that I no longer plan to use I-85.  The last time I went to Atlanta I decided to come back on Georgia 85 and was glad.  Even if it was mainly two-lanes,  it was still a much more pleasant drive.

“I noticed you said nothing about rail in your talk today,” I told him.  “Everything I read about it says that rail is the most efficient way to transport masses of people.”

“I wasn’t sure that people in Columbus, or other parts of the state were interested or ready to talk about rail.”

Chairman Sam Olens, Cobb County Board of Commissioners; William Buck, Rotarian

Chairman Sam Olens, Cobb County Board of Commissioners; William Buck, Buck Ice and Coal Company, and Rotarian; Rebecca Hardin, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and Rotarian

Among Rotarians involved in the after-the-speech conversation was William Buck who said,  “It would be great if we could take a train to Atlanta for $3  the way we did years ago.”

Olen said,  “You may as well make it free as to charge $3,”   but he realized we are interested.  Of course,  that one-way $3 was on the Man O’ War that went into service right after World War Two.  Factoring in inflation, that $3 would be about $25 now.   

“Are you for rail? I asked  him.

“Well, yes ,  but it is very expensive to build.”

“Pouring millions of tons of concrete or asphalt is also very expensive.  Why not just switch that money to rail?”

“I have said more than once that I would like to see light rail built in my county.”

For some reason, the legislature just won’t seriously consider mass transit, preferring to pour billions into adding lanes and building more highways.  It’s hard to change old habits, I guess.

Another big issue to Cobb County is water,  or, I suppose more accurately, the shortage of it, and what to do about it.  Former head of the Columbus Water Works Billy Turner talked with Olens briefly about that,  and said he would like to discuss it more, and Olens said he hoped they would.  Billy talked a lot about it with me.  We’ll look at that one tomorrow.  




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