GDOT: No New Road Projects After 30 June Without Congressional Action

May 12, 2014 9:00 am

by Charlie · 11 comments

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.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Rick Day May 12, 2014 at 9:10 am

Hey when embedding videos can you make sure that the auto-play is not selected? It makes for some difficult times when I have to scroll down my feed list to find the loud and obnoxious voices of Atlanta TV media.

2nd request.

Thanks!

RD

Charlie May 12, 2014 at 9:23 am

As soon as WSB allows me to program their embeds, I’ll take that under consideration.

Will Durant May 12, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Somehow Galloway/Malloy/Bluestein found a workaround. It might be because they are under the Cox umbrella but you may want to check with one of them. Unless you are one of the ones accusing them of being partisan liberal… with every column that doesn’t slant hard right ;)

Harry May 12, 2014 at 9:40 am

Who is funding PolicyBEST?

saltycracker May 12, 2014 at 9:47 am

We seem to run off the road/track very quickly on priorities and trying (expensively) to change behavior rather than improve efficiency.

NorthGAGOP May 12, 2014 at 9:54 am

Is that crickets I hear from Congressmen Kingston, Gingrey and Broun?

Any thoughts on Congressmen Graves proposal?

Will Durant May 12, 2014 at 2:56 pm

What happens with the GARVEE Bonds if we are not “anticipating” grants?

Ellynn May 12, 2014 at 3:33 pm

This is a good tie in to the Politico piece “sprawled out in Atlanta” your quoted in Charlie.

Harry May 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Is PolicyBEST a 501(c)(3) or something else?

The Last Democrat in Georgia May 13, 2014 at 4:42 am

We don’t necessarily need Congress to act as it is way past time that Georgia and most other states quit being overdependent on a nearly bankrupt federal government to fund our basic transportation needs with borrowed money because we refuse to do so on our own.

Like most other states, it is way past time for Georgia to stop sucking off of the nearly-depleted federal government teat of borrowed money, grow up and start funding our own transportation needs with adequate amounts of state motor fuel tax revenues, user fees and private investment.

The feds should be a very-rare funding source of absolute last resort and not a funding source of very-first resort just because we as a state are too lazy and immature to come up with transportation funding on our own.

Everybody wants roads and transit and seaports but nobody wants to pay for them (and in many cases, most people around these parts don’t seem to have the slightest clue of how to pay for them…hint: you don’t pay for them by desperately begging a flat-broke and severely-indebted federal government to give you more borrowed money).

saltycracker May 13, 2014 at 10:30 am

Wonder how much money for transportation improvements could come ILO economic development diversions?

We staff and fund agencies to negotiate with companies and press for legislation to compete for business. Many times the money is to overcome accessibility until the state or feds get it done.

Near me the access to industrial parks is through the main retail area or down a two lane highway.
Many times a fair number of forecasted workers will be drawn from areas in nearby counties and the two lane state roads are inadequate. Even a much lower property tax has failed to entice relocation on this point.

We continue to expect the state and feds to fix the transportation problem and ask for more folks and funds for economic development. Our business successes are probably more related to metro expansion. In this decade, our economic development needs relate to road, air and possibly rail with bus a low priority.