Georgia’s billion dollar-plus and growing annual funding shortfall to adequately maintain and improve our state’s transportation system is a major threat to our economic competitiveness. With a whopping 54 percent of state transportation funding coming from the federal level, the problem promises to worsen if we cannot become more self-sufficient.
While other states are investing in their transportation infrastructure, Georgia is at risk of losing our competitive edge. All of Georgia’s neighboring states-our key competitors for job creation-spend nearly twice as much per mile on roadway maintenance and they continue to invest in new construction. Georgia ranks 49th in the nation in per capita transportation spending.
If we fail to address the funding gap, it will become harder for employees to get to work and for freight to move to and from our ports and international airport. It will also impact our citizens’ safety and overall quality of life. And-we also need continued attention to ALL transportation options and modes, including a serious focus on transit. There is a reason we have seen numerous major corporate relocations in our region to sites with transit access.
The current transportation funding proposal, known as House Bill 170, or HB170, is the result of a year-long study process to address the existing budget shortfall and reduce the maintenance backlog and 50-year repair and improvement cycle. It provides the funding that Georgia needs to remain competitive for investment and job growth in today’s economy.
If this bill is approved by our legislature, taxes collected from transportation can only be used for transportation. It will reduce funding instability resulting from fluctuating gas prices and federal funding. GDOT will be able to speed up the maintenance cycle for roads and bridges throughout the state and also move forward on projects included in the Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan. The passage of this bill will result in true metamorphosis to the structure currently in place, and will provide long-term and assured funding flow.
The Council for Quality Growth-comprised of more than 250 member companies in the growth and development industry in the Metro Atlanta Region-supports HB170 as part of a multi-pronged solution to the state’s transportation and infrastructure needs.
Council members were involved in more than a billion dollars of new private construction and development last year, and our public utility and Community Improvement District members have contributed tens of billions of dollars to Georgia’s economy through infrastructure construction. In the work we do to invest in-and attract investment to-our state, we are keenly aware of the link between transportation and economic development.
The Council for Quality Growth stands with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and other organizations in support of HB170. As organizations responsible for protecting the interests of the businesses that drive this state’s economy, we send the message to Georgia citizens that we must take this action in order to continue to attract investment and jobs to our great state.
We appreciate the hard work House Transportation Chairman Jay Roberts, committee members, and legislators have done to find a long-term solution to our transportation funding problem. It is crucial that a version of HB170 makes it to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. Georgia cannot afford to wait any longer.
Link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle Op-Ed