Georgia’s highway construction projects are managed and paid for within the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) using a combination of federal highway trust fund money, tax revenue generated and retained within the state plus whatever state budget allocation the governor and General Assembly approve each year. Federal law requires that Georgia pay for construction projects first and then, after completion and satisfying all of the many Federal hoops, apply for reimbursement from the Feds.
Federal involvement in construction projects exponentially increases the cost and time for completion of these projects– the recent Atlanta Interstate-85 bridge repair being the outstanding exception. It is a well known fact that any time the feds gets involved with anything, stuff costs more and takes more time to complete.
Maintenance and repair road projects within Georgia, by comparison, are paid for using by state dollars, without federal money or oversight. The result– the cost and time for completion of these maintenance and repair projects is significantly lower.
The state of Florida, by contrast, uses federal money for maintenance and repair projects, and state money for construction projects.The result? Florida’s highway construction projects are completed at a lower cost and in a shorter timeframe.
Amidst debate over HB 170, the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, in the Georgia General Assembly, I proposed to then- Transportation Committee Chair Jay Roberts that GDOT consider flipping its transportation funding to use state money for construction projects and federal money for maintenance and repair. To date, GDOT has yet to make this change.
It’s time for the Georgia General Assembly to debate this issue, and, if merited, change our transportation construction project funding methodology to the more efficient, cost effective Florida model.
The author, who was first elected to serve the House in 2015-16, represents a portion of Glynn County, and all of McIntosh and Long Counties.