Eric the Younger previewed the possibility last week, and WSB now has GDOT on record. Without Congress fixing the Federal Highway Trust Fund, the Georgia Department of Transportation will not approve any new contracts after June 30th:
(WSB video and commentary after the jump. Warning, WSB’s video embed platform starts with audio when the page loads.)
Expect this to be a topic of increasing discussion around these parts. This isn’t “one” problem, but the convergence of several.
1) Georgia funds a disproportionate share of transportation from the Federal Highway Trust Fund instead of from state and local direct sources.
2) Georgia is last out of 50 states in the amount of money spent per capita on transportation. In fact, we only spend 60 cents for every average states’ dollar spent.
3) More than half of the state’s population lives in metro Atlanta, which is ranked one of the top four fastest growing metro areas in the country.
4) When you combine points 2 and 3 above, the problem magnifies. We’re growing the fastest, but spending the least on infrastructure.
5) Much of our economic development initiatives are built around Georgia as a logistics hub. Hartsfield-Jackson is our crown jewel. The Port of Savannah is our highest priority. Yet how we move people and cargo once they arrive at either is…let’s just say it needs some attention.
I’ll personally be working on this as a primary focus area with my advocacy group PolicyBEST. I hope we can continue the robust discussion we’ve had here around issues such as T-SPLOST, MARTA, HOT lanes, etc to an overall understanding of the big picture. I hope we’ll all resist the urge to begin with knee-jerk “It’s this simple….” answers, because it’s not.
This is a problem decades in the making. This is an issue that won’t be solved by merely throwing billions into the mix, nor by pretending the problem will go away if we ignore it.
The immediate issue at hand is that Congress must act. But Georgians are going to have to act too. We need to begin to have the conversation to make sure we all understand the problem, and weigh the options that are available. Few of them will be painless. PolicyBEST has a few that can start with relatively easy lifting.
But if we want real long term solutions, we’re going to have to get outside our usual talking points, understand the metrics and date that demonstrate how far outside the norm we are, and begin corrective actions. That part won’t be easy. But sitting in worse and worse traffic isn’t that easy either.