Editor’s note: Transportation issues always prove to be hot topics in metro Atlanta. With a special purpose local option sales tax for regional transportation projects on the ballot this summer (T-SPLOST), debates over what’s needed to fix our tranportation problems are likely to heat up even more than usual.

With this issue, Dunwoody resident Bob Dallas begins an occasional column for Reporter Newspapers and www.ReporterNewspapers.net called “Dallas On Transportation” or “DOT.” Dallas headed the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety under former Gov. Sonny Perdue. He will answer questions about public policy on transportation and related needs. Direct questions to him at editor@reporternewspapers.net.

By Bob Dallas

Bob Dallas

Whether you walk, ride or drive, you are a user of transportation. Webster defines transportation as “1: an act, process, or instance of transporting or being transported; 2: banishment to a penal colony; 3a: means of conveyance or travel from one place to another; b: public conveyance of passengers or goods especially as a commercial enterprise.”

While many of us often feel we have been banished to a penal colony as we sit in congested traffic, the reality is transportation is much broader than even Noah Webster defines the word.

In truth, transportation is defined by each of us. Sometimes we walk, sometimes we ride and sometimes we drive.

How, when, where and why is a decision we Americans treasure. In many respects it defines our freedom from the earliest days of our history. “Go West, young man” is a term which captures this sentiment. Its importance has only grown.

Just ask a 12-year-old what a bike means or a 16-year-old what getting a driver’s license means or an 80-year-old what being unable to drive means.

Their answers go to the heart of freedom.

When transportation does not work for the individual, our freedoms appear challenged. Think not?

I invite you to reflect on the last time you planned to be someplace within a time period, and due to a delay not of your own making you were late. Way late. Too late.

The same is true for the goods shipped on our transportation systems. Time is money. Now multiply that by the millions and it is easy to see how there are very few issues as important as transportation. How well it works affects all of us in just about every way possible.

Because each of us defines transportation, there is no one right answer for the transportation systems we build to serve us all.

Another truth is there are more questions than answers. These questions address everything from congestion to economic development to engineering to education to enforcement to growth to transit to bikes to zoning to just about everything you care about.

In coming weeks, we will address some of those questions. All I ask is, don’t get mad when you don’t like the answers!

Enjoy the ride. The next stop is managed lanes.