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Friday, September 4, 2009

Oxendine still wants 'parallel downtown connector'

Georgia GOP gubernatorial candidate John Oxendine managed to lose the two or three intown Atlanta supporters he had on Aug. 31 with a proposal to "talk about" building "parallel downtown connector" that, if made a reality, could potentially slice through much of Inman Park, East Atlanta and other popular neighborhoods.

Inman Park residents, familiar with such ideas after they successfully helped squash I-485 in the 1970s, demanded he drop the idea. The frontrunners in the Atlanta mayoral race say it's a terrible concept.

Well, The Ox© hath responded:

“I love East Atlanta, Morningside, Grant Park, Inman Park and that entire wonderful part of our great state,” said Oxendine. “But I know we must find a way to move Georgia forward towards “greener” roads, mass transit, light rail—every option must be on the table.”

In other words, the proposal stands.

In an interview with CL yesterday afternoon, Oxendine spokesman Tim Echols said Inman Park residents might be "getting the cart before the horse" and that the proposal is "just an idea." The video in which the candidate pitched his idea, Echols said, was part of an initiative to recruit everyday Georgians to help craft transportation policy.

"The only transportation projects that are set in stone are the Western Bypass, the completion of the Fall Line Freeway, and this east-west connector north of Lake Lanier," Echols said. He added that Oxendine is a proponent of all modes of transportation, including light-rail, high-speed rail and something oxymoronic called "green roads."

When asked if Oxendine was familiar with the I-485 battle, and that even proposing a discussion about an intown interstate borders on blasphemy, Echols said the commissioner was aware of historic fight. But he said that "east metro Atlanta's congestion problem must be managed."

"We're one state," he said. "This is not 'the state of intown Atlanta,' it's 'the state of Georgia.' And [Oxendine]'s going to work to find a positive solution for the east side of metro Atlanta."

If you think about it, Oxendine can't go wrong with this strategy. The City of Atlanta, while not 100 percent Democrat, isn't an area Republicans necessarily try to win. There's enough urban/suburban resentment that his proposal easily wins him OTP fans. He better be prepared for another candidate, one eager to chip away at his rank in the polls, to call him out for proposing what could essentially come down to eminent domain issues. Even if the interstate is never built (and it most likely never will), that's not a charge to which a conservative candidate wants to answer.

Until then, anything to woo the long-suffering voters in the suburban outer ring, we suppose.

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