The state of Georgia has invested a record $2.25 billion in improvements to its transportation infrastructure during Fiscal Year 2006.
The $2.25 billion is nearly double the amount spent in 2005, the previous highest year, and is more than 108 percent higher than the amount invested in FY02 when Perdue first took office.
“The Fast Forward program is reducing traffic congestion and even further enhancing Georgia’s marketability for new business development,” Perdue said. “Improving our transportation infrastructure is well worth the investment we’ve made.”
“What a wonderful way to start my first day on a new job,” said DOT Chairman Mike Evans, who began his tenure July 20 as the DOT board chairman. “As evidenced by this announcement, our board is clearly focused on the governor’s mandate to expeditiously move these projects from the drafting table to reality. And there is much more to come.”
“This is a phenomenal accomplishment and is directly attributable to the governor’s leadership,” added Commissioner Harold Linnenkohl. “When he began the Fast Forward Program nearly three years ago, Gov. Perdue gave us a challenge and a mission — to get these much-needed projects underway. As this announcement indicates, we have accepted that challenge and are well on our way to fulfilling that mission.”
The expenditures reflect federal and state gas tax revenue and bond issue commitments for 612 transportation projects contracted during the year. The previous highest record was $1.14 billion invested in FY05. The FY06 expenditures reflect a 108 percent increase over FY02 expenditures of $1.08 billion.
Also July 20, Perdue and Linnenkohl will joined state and Crisp County officials for the groundbreaking of an I-75 widening project encompassing eight miles of Interstate 75, north of Cordele. The project will cost $145.8 million.
“Widening I-75 in Crisp County will not only be good for Georgia travelers, but it will have a positive effect on the region’s accessibility for economic development and tourism,” Perdue said.
“I-75 is a vital route for commuters, commercial truck traffic, and vacationers,” Linnenkohl said. “It serves as a critical lifeline for hurricane evacuations and an equally critical lifeline for economic growth and development throughout the state.”
Including the Crisp County project, DOT has now either completed or begun nine I-75 projects as a part of the Fast Forward Program. The projects total more than $600 million invested and 73 miles of new lanes. The widening projects expand I-75 to at least six lanes (three in each direction) throughout virtually all of Georgia. Once all Fast Forward projects are completed, the state’s investment in the program will be more than $700 million.
Fast Forward is a $15.5 billion initiative to undertake in six years congestion mitigation and economic development transportation projects throughout Georgia that otherwise would have required 18 years. Among those Fast Forward projects begun in FY06 were $300 million in I-75 widenings throughout south Georgia; a $199 million widening of I-95 in Glynn County; and the $147 million reconstruction of the I-85/Georgia State Route 316 interchange in Gwinnett County.
The FY06 investment total also includes $117 million committed to Perdue’s Paving the Way Home program to assist Georgia cities and counties with local transportation projects. Another $117 million Paving the Way Home commitment will follow in FY07.
Other major state corridors to benefit from the FY06 expenditures include SR 74 in Fayette County, SR 120 and SR 20 in Gwinnett County, SR 53 in Hall County, SR 196 in Liberty County and SR 138 in Clayton County. The Fast Forward program also includes hundreds of smaller-scale projects ranging from lighting and safety improvements to ramp metering to traffic signalization.