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New State Transporation Authority Planned
Thursday, 19 February 2009
February 19--  Governor Sonny Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and Speaker of the House Glenn Richardson today announced the Transforming Transportation Investment Act, legislation that will dramatically improve the way transportation projects are planned, constructed and maintained in Georgia.

“Georgians deserve a transportation network that functions as a whole – not 13 gerrymandered parts,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “We need to abandon the scattered approach that spreads resources too thin, and instead focus investment on projects that actually move the needle on congestion, job creation and take full advantage of the investments we have made in our ports, rail lines and airports.”

The legislation will merge the current powers of the State Road and Tollway Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority into a new State Transportation Authority that will be responsible for developing a statewide, strategic multi-modal transportation plan and making budget requests from that plan each year to the Governor and General Assembly. The Authority would ensure that both long-range and short-range plans are developed in collaboration with the Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) around the state and continually updated and approved by the General Assembly.

The Board of the State Transportation Authority will be comprised of 11 members: five appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the Lt. Governor and three by the Speaker of the House. Appointees named by the Lt. Governor will need confirmation by the full Senate, and appointees named by the Speaker will need confirmation by the full House of Representatives. The members’ terms would run concurrently with the terms of the person that appointed them. The Governor will appoint the Secretary of Transportation.

"It is very clear that the current delivery of transportation in Georgia has not produced the results we need,” said Lt. Governor Cagle. “Our goal is simple: to create a strategic statewide method by which projects are planned, financed and implemented with true transparency and accountability.”

Under the legislation, state motor fuel funds will remain dedicated to roads and bridges as required by the state constitution. However, all transportation funds will be deposited into the State Public Transportation Fund and appropriated annually by the General Assembly.

“Improving transportation is important to all Georgians whether that means passing a transportation funding plan or reforming the agency that carries out the state’s transportation duties,” said Speaker Richardson.  “This reform package not only creates a more accountable and responsive agency, but it will deliver transportation projects faster and more efficiently throughout the entire state.”

The State Transportation Authority will focus on three funding programs – state asset management, state asset improvement and local grants. The state asset management program will cover operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure. The state asset improvement program will focus on projects that deliver new road and transit capacity and safety enhancements. The local grant program would receive a minimum of 25 percent of state motor fuel collections and will help fund projects prioritized by local governments.

“This proposal ushers in a new transportation partnership between the state and local governments,” Governor Perdue added. “Local governments will have more reliability and dependability on the amount of resources available each year from the state to help meet local needs.”

The Georgia Department of Transportation and State Transportation Board will continue to serve an important role in managing Georgia’s infrastructure. GDOT will retain many of its current operations and maintenance activities, and the Department could also be involved in the delivery of new construction projects once they are selected and funded by the STA.

The bill will be introduced in the House by Majority Leader Jerry Keen and in the Senate by  President Pro Tem Tommie Williams of Lyons.

 
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