State transportation board urges legislature to address funding

Press Release:

ATLANTA, GA – The State Transportation Board today implored the Georgia General Assembly and Governor Sonny Perdue to address the mounting funding crisis facing transportation throughout the state.  Noting that failure to generate more state transportation funding may result, for the first time in history, in Georgia having to decline available federal assistance in Fiscal Year 2012, the Board unanimously adopted a resolution urging legislators and the governor to "do all things necessary" to generate additional transportation monies.

"We are committed to providing the best transportation system, one that meets the needs of every Georgian," Board Chairman Bill Kuhlke, Jr., stated. "But…this can only be attained through real transportation funding."

The resolution, sponsored by board Member David Doss, noted that, during Fiscal Year 2011 – which begins July 1, The Georgia Department of Transportation anticipates revenue available from state motor fuel taxes will total some $829 million but that more than half that amount -- $421 million – will have to be used for debt service payments.  (Georgia DOT is the only department in state government required to pay its own general obligation bond debt service; all others are paid through the state's general fund.). By Fiscal Year 2012, the resolution continues, Georgia DOT will be unable to access all of the federal dollars allocated to the state because state "matching funds" will not exist.  The federal appropriation essentially is an annual, proportioned return to Georgia of federal gas dollars generated in the state.  As a requirement for spending the money, Georgia DOT usually has to provide "matching funds," most often at a rate of 20 percent of the federal monies being spent (for example, if the Department were to allocate $1 million in federal funds on a project, it also would have to allocate $200,000 in state funds).

"None of the regional funding approaches that are currently under consideration (by the legislature) would add any additional revenue to the Department," Doss noted in his resolution, adding in comments later that "it will be outrageous if we find ourselves turning down federal dollars that were generated in this state and that we have a right to."

Exacerbating Georgia DOT's dilemma, the Board was informed today that maintenance needs on the approximately 19,000 miles of federal and state roads in Georgia now total well more than $1 billion; that the Department's budget crisis has caused the maintenance budget to be slashed by more than $200 million a year; and that a failure to address these maintenance needs in the near future could result in eventual repairs that may be as much as 14 times as expensive.

"This is an absolute mess," Board Member Sam Wellborn added.  "The legislature and the people of Georgia need to know how desperate this situation really is."

In other action today, the Board:

  • Adopted a resolution formally implementing the latest revisions to the national Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as the Department's guiding principles related to traffic signals, signage and road striping.
  • Adopted a resolution commending and thanking recently retired Georgia DOT Public Private Partnerships (P3) Director Earl Mahfuz for 30 years of outstanding and devoted public service.

Source: State Transportation Board