The General Assembly passed House Bill 202 during the 2013 Session and at first glance, it appears to be a routine bill. When you read the bill and the law behind it, one is able to see in a post-TSPLOST world, this legislation will make a major impact on the Metro Region’s transportation future.
Governor Deal signed the bill, which allows the state DOT the flexibility to allocate federal transportation funds for interstate improvements and certain freight corridor projects based on needs of the state, instead of equally among Georgia’s fourteen Congressional districts, known as Congressional Balancing. This previously was a requirement of the original legislative package that formed the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).
What does this mean for the Metro Region?
According to State Transportation Planning Director Toby Carr, projects such as the I-285/Ga. 400 Interchange, which was the single biggest road project funded by the Round Table in the project list from last summer’s referendum, will likely benefit from the exemption.
Why is this project so important? JOBS.
The perimeter is one of the most congested traffic areas in the Metro Region and if companies are looking to relocate here, you can rest assured traffic in the perimeter plays a big part in their relocation decision. As Yvonne Williams, President of the Perimeter Community Improvement Districts reminded us last week in her Op-Ed, “The removal of tolls on Ga. 400 is expected to increase evening peak traffic by an estimated 15 percent and reduce traffic speeds by an estimated 55 percent. Population growth will fuel traffic in the corridor as a projected 3 million more residents will call metro Atlanta home in 2040, according to the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC).”
Other projects likely to benefit from the new law include I-16/I-75 Interchange in Macon and the I-285/I-20 interchanges. What many Georgians have failed to realize is the money for transportation is shrinking. With the rejection of the TSPLOST, we need to accept the shrinking pot of money means fewer, targeted traffic fixes in the Metro-Region. Governor Deal reminded Georgians that the impact of the TSPLOST vote, coupled with the President’s $85 billion in across the board federal cuts, is just now taking effect. Projects such as the state’s newest optional toll lane, located on a 12-mile stretch, mostly in HenryCounty, scheduled for completion in 2016 and optional toll lanes for I-75/575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties will have to do. With the rejection of the TSPLOST, the voters asked for a Plan B and the opponents of TSPLOST failed to provide one.
Around The Region 4 The leadership of the state and Metro Region, including Governor Deal, State Transportation Planning Director Toby Carr, DOT Commissioner Keith Golden, DOT Deputy Commissioner Todd Long, DOT Chairman Johnny Floyd, the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Metro Chamber of Commerce and the Council for Quality Growth are prepared to lead once again to keep Georgia and the Metro Region as a desired location for new and current business.