Federal Highway Bill Includes Seven ’New Start’ Projects in GA

Wed August 17, 2005 - Southeast Edition

Gov. Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Georgia Transportation Board Chairman David Doss praised congressional passage of new national surface transportation reauthorization legislation.

Among many Georgia benefits in the federal transportation legislation adopted in July, the state will receive 29 percent more each year in highway funding through 2009 as well as move closer to recouping a full return on federal fuel taxes generated in Georgia.

“This legislation is a victory for the state of Georgia,” said Isakson, who was selected by Senate leadership in May to participate in the conference committee that crafted a compromise on the bill. “It will provide our state with the tools necessary to improve and expand its surface transportation infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population.”

“I want to thank Senator Isakson and our entire Congressional delegation for their efforts in securing needed transportation resources for our state,” Perdue said. “These transportation funds will be used for congestion relief in metropolitan areas, economic development projects in rural Georgia and specific Fast Forward projects.”

“Through the leadership of Senator Isakson and the other members of our congressional delegation, Georgia’s transportation agencies will be better equipped than ever before to address this state’s mobility needs,” Doss added. “This reauthorization and efforts already under way such as Governor Perdue’s Fast Forward Program give us a tremendous opportunity to make real progress in areas of congestion mitigation, economic development and safety.”

Among the key Georgia provisions included in the Surface Transportation Authorizations Act, known as SAFETEA-LU, are:

• Overall annual increases in the amount of federal funding for state highway, transit and safety programs totaling approximately $286 million per year.

• Increases in the minimum guaranteed return for Georgia and other “donor” states from the current 85 percent to 91.5 percent in Fiscal 2007 and 92 percent in Fiscal 2008 and 2009. This will result in millions more dollars in additional federal funding for Georgia transportation projects beginning in 2007. (Donor states are those like Georgia which generate more in federal gas tax revenues annually than are returned in grants to the states.)

• Concept approval for seven “new start” projects in the state including an Interstate 285 transit corridor and other corridor projects on Interstates 20 and 75 and Georgia 400.

• New funding for highway safety initiatives with special focus on rural roads.

• A 64 percent increase in transit formula funding for projects throughout Georgia — from $473 million to $774 million during the next five years.