Governor Perdue Unveils Major Transportation Investment
|Wednesday, April 14, 2004||
Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774
"Fast Forward" Plan Allocates $15.5 Billion to Relieve Congestion and Expand Economic Development
Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue announced today his Fast Forward transportation plan - a six-year, $15.57 billion state transportation investment strategy to relieve traffic congestion and expand economic development in urban and rural Georgia. Approximately half of the investment will be spent in the Metro Atlanta Region ($7.922 billion), with the remaining dollars to be spent across the rest of the state ($7.652 billion).
"Fast Forward is an aggressive proposal that will be the largest investment we make in improving the quality of life for Georgians and spurring the economic vitality of our state. We will accomplish in six years what would have otherwise taken 18," said Governor Sonny Perdue. "In keeping with our principle of allocating funds equitably, approximately half of the $15.5 billion total will be spent in the Metro Atlanta Region, where half of all Georgians live." The $15.57 billion investment includes:
- $11 billion in funding through the regular Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) program.
- $1.5 billion in General Obligation (GO) and General Revenue (GR) bonds to fund arterial road improvements and the Governor's Road Improvement Program (GRIP).
- $3 billion in federally funded GARVEE bonds. GARVEE bonds are a new funding mechanism for Georgia and an additional revenue stream that will primarily fund congestion relief projects.
Short-term Congestion Relief Coming for Georgia Motorists
To address short term congestion relief for Georgia motorists, a $211 million investment in design and construction will be used to expand the NaviGAtor Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) to include all congested freeways in Metro Atlanta. $105 million will be allocated for annual operation and maintenance - representing $55 million in additional operations and maintenance funds over the current funding level.
The Highway Emergency Response Operator (HERO) program will also be expanded to include all congested freeways in Metro Atlanta with $48 million allocated over the next six years for operations and maintenance - representing $25 million in additional operating funds over the current level. This will safely and efficiently clear traffic incidents that disrupt the flow of traffic and cause delays. The ITS and HERO investments should reduce peak hour delays by as much as 30%.
To better regulate the flow of traffic on freeways and arterial roads the investment program includes $16 million to expand freeway ramp metering over the next six years. Implementation of this system can reduce peak hour delays by 7 %. $116 million will be allocated for traffic signal upgrades, including synchronization of principal arterial road traffic signals. In a pilot project by DOT, 14 traffic lights were synchronized on state route 316 between Gwinnett and Barrow Counties resulting in a 16% reduction of average travel time for commuters.
Long-term Congestion Relief to Transform Georgia's Highways
As part of the Governor's plan, congestion relief must also be addressed long term. The
Governor's investment package includes billions for long term congestion relief, including:
- Approximately $1.4 billion to accelerate expansion of HOV lanes on critical congested corridors, such as I-75 in Cobb County and GA 400 north of 285.
- $286 million to implement two new transit services in the Atlanta region (Northwest corridor and the I-285 Cumberland/Galleria to Doraville corridor), providing commuters with highway alternatives.
- Statewide improvements to our Interstate system to increase capacity in congested urban areas and congested rural freeways, allocating $1.5 billion to add 267 lane miles to rural I-75, I-85, and I-95; and 173 new lane miles in urban interstate capacity in Atlanta, Macon, Augusta, Savannah, and Columbus.
Announcements concerning the allocation of the GO bonds, the GR bonds, and the regular GDOT program will be forthcoming at a future date.
Task Force to Increase Cooperation Among Local Governments and Transportation Agencies
Governor Perdue also announced today the creation of a Governor's Task Force on Local Transportation Strategies. The new task force will bring state transportation agencies together with local government. It will review current funding options available to cities and counties and make recommendations for maximizing local resources. (Please see attached Executive Order.)
Q & A
How was this program developed?
Fast Forward was developed to help relieve congestion statewide and improve access throughout the State while keeping in mind our limitations on how much we could afford to bond. There are many more projects that we would like to have funded but we could not overextend ourselves. We picked the ones that have the greatest impact.
Who selected these projects?
These projects were selected by consensus between the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA), the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) based on a set of principles provided by Governor Perdue.
Who got the most, Atlanta or the rest of the state?
Fast Forward is balanced almost exactly as the population is distributed.
When will these projects be built?
Fast Forward allows us to accomplish in the next 6 years that which would otherwise have taken 18 years . The construction of some of these projects will be done over a six year period from fiscal year 2005 to fiscal year 2010. On other projects such as HOV lanes on I-75 North, the construction will be in 2010 because of complicated design work and extensive right-of-way purchases that will be necessary.
How much did transit receive? Why wasn't more given to transit?
Transit receives $286,000,000 in the GARVEE bond program. We also anticipate additional funding from future general obligation bonds. The bond money will be used to leverage monies from Federal programs. The combined bond package anticipates over $500 Million for transit which could result in almost $1 billion for transit.
How does this GARVEE proposal differ from Governor Barnes' bond proposal?
The four most significant differences are:
The money we are spending on congestion issues at this time is being borrowed within our means. We looked closely at what Georgia could afford and decided that based on the low interest rates and the competitive market in the transportation contracting industry at this time, we could get the best balance of cost and accelerated relief for our money.
Our plan is much more focused. Each project was studied and placed in this package with both cost and traffic mitigation impact in mind.
Our plan sets realistic timelines for delivering critical transportation projects across the State.
This plan limits potential impact to future transportation needs by drawing only against a very limited category of funding.
Essentially our bond package is a leaner, fiscally sound program that has a specific objective in mind.
Will this cause an increase in gas taxes in the future?
This bond program does not add pressure for a tax increase because the level of debt is limited to a level that ensures that the State's ability to service the remaining transportation needs are not diminished.
How did we come up with the level of funding for GARVEE bonds?
The level of funding is based on a conservative estimate of future federal funds in the Interstate Maintenance (IM) and the National Highway System (NHS) categories less the amount necessary to maintain our system, any amount expected to be transferred to transit and any amount necessary to fund projects already in the program. The final bond funding level was then calculated from the amount of bond debt service that could be sustained without jeopardizing our future.
Why aren't these projects being funded on the regular program instead of being bonded?
Most projects can be funded through the GDOT regular program. However, because of the limited availability resources each year in the regular program, these projects would take years to complete. The advantage of Fast Forward is the acceleration of start dates allowing for completion faster than traditionally possible. That means many projects can be opened to the public much earlier.
What will happen to currently planned projects that are not in the bond package?
All currently planned projects will proceed based on current schedules.