On Tuesday, June 9th, the Council for Quality Growth attended a transportation roundtable at Ga. Tech that featured:
Pa. Congressman Bill Shuster, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
Ga. Congressman Rob Woodall, Member of the U.S. House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
Ga. Congressman Tom Graves, Member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee
Ga. Congressman Rick Allen, Member of the U.S. House Agriculture Committee
Georgia Department of Transportation Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle
Georgia Ports Authority Senior Director Jamie McCurry
Coca-Cola Vice President of Supply Chain and Transportation Michael Broaders
UPS Vice President of Network Operations Matthew J. Connelly
The roundtable focused on many issues such as the need for a long term sustainable transportation funding bill from Congress, the national freight network and Atlanta’s important role in that network, the federal role in ensuring a cohesive, efficient, national transportation network, and how the federal government can improve and streamline infrastructure programs to help ensure the transportation network meets the needs of our economy.
Discussion included flexibility in rules and surveys that inhibit infrastructure development and have lead to a 5.5 year project timeline in Georgia from start of design to contract because of federal regulations. The panelists discussed the inhibiting requirement of studies on the “endangered bat” (to understand the issue of the bat, click HERE for an op-ed penned by the Council for Quality Growth that appeared in the AJC). Chairman Shuster advocated for passing a 6-year funding bill that would also lessen current required regulation standards from the National Environmental Protection Agency that inhibit transportation and infrastructure development.
Coca-Cola noted the importance of roads and infrastructure development due to the majority of their freight shipping by trucks using the roads. UPS noted that transportation and infrastructure spending in the U.S. had not kept pace and expressed a willingness to invest more into infrastructure.
According to the DOT’s Meg Pirkle “The condition of our system has been deteriorating greatly over the last couple decades,” Meg Pirkle, the chief engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, told the panel. “The money we received this year from our state Legislature is pretty much a Band-Aid on an open wound. We have to have consistent, reliable transportation funding.”
Two questions, even after the forum remain: Will the U.S. Congress pass a long-term transportation and infrastructure funding bill and where will the money come from?
The Council continues to be an advocate for the passing of a long-term funding bill and reducing NEPA regulations, both needed for the development of much-needed transportation projects in the metro Region.