The AJC did a summary article depicting transportation woes under the Perdue Administration. It does give credit for finishing some high profile (and high dollar) projects like the GA-316/I-85 interchange under the Governor’s “Fast-Forward” program.
The result, however, has been higher interest payments on bonds let to fund these projects, with fewer dollars available for new projects. The spike in earlier activity with few follow on projects has taken jobs out of the Georgia economy just as it hit a major downturn.
The dollar amount of transportation projects out for bid went from $2.65 billion in fiscal 2007 to $484 million in fiscal 2009, which ended June 30. That $484 million included federal stimulus money.
At the same time, the recession dragged down gas tax revenue, adding to the DOT’s woes.
The slowdown helped the DOT start building back its treasury balance, which was at about $809 million by the end of fiscal 2009, according to agency officials.
But the lack of contracts for road projects led highway contractors —according to some estimates — to shed up to 10,000 jobs in Georgia just as the recession started to kick into high gear last year.
So, the question remains, in an election year with power struggles and political fiefdoms still in flux, will the legislature attempt to find new revenue for transportation? Or will this be another year where we decide to study the problem?