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Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue
Georgia Seal

Prepared Remarks of Governor Sonny Perdue

Wednesday, April 14, 2004  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774

(Note: The Governor sometimes deviates from prepared remarks)
Fast Forward Transportation Announcement
Atlanta, Georgia

Good morning. Today I am excited to share with you my vision for moving Georgia's transportation program forward.

I have an aggressive plan that calls for the largest overall investment we will make in improving the quality of life for Georgians and spurring the economic vitality of our state.

Before I go into the details, I want to put this plan in context.

I wonder if you can recall with me a headline from May 30, 2002. It was during my campaign for Governor.

That morning the front page headline of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, top of the fold, in boldprint was: "31 minutes, 12 seconds. LA move over. Atlanta tops you in commute time."

That crystallized what I already knew would be one of the cornerstone objectives of my administration - to get Georgia moving.

As we know, Georgia is one of the fastest growing states in the nation. Just last week, the Census Bureau confirmed that 4 of the 10 fastest-growing counties in the nation are located in the Metro Atlanta area.

It is my responsibility as Governor to meet the challenges of our growing population head-on.

When I took office, I saw our transportation agencies working with separate agendas and a troubling lack of communication.

So I brought our key transportation players together around a common table and asked them develop a common plan.

Today, I'm pleased that GDOT, GRTA, SRTA, ARC, local governments, and other key players are working together like never before.

With the players assembled, I provided them with the vision- a clear set of principles to guide our transportation planning:

1. Promote safety

2. Improve the mobility of people and goods

3. Improve air quality for our citizens

4. Spend transportation funds in a strategic, cost effective manner and

5. Allocate funds equitably

I asked Georgia's transportation team to follow these principles in developing a comprehensive transportation plan. In the interim, I put forward our initial bond package last year - Georgia Gets Going.

It was focused on speeding up existing high priority projects to improve mobility and access.

Today, with the players, the principles, and the plan aligned, we're building on that start with a comprehensive transportation program for the next 6 years.

I call this $15.5 billion program to relieve congestion and promote economic growth, "Fast Forward."

I call it "Fast Forward" because it allows us to do in 6 years work that which would otherwise take 18 years to complete.

In other words, we're going to pick up the remote and fast forward to the good part - a more mobile, growing Georgia.

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.

And half of the funds will go to the needs of Georgians in other regions of the state.

That's where the money goes. Here is where it comes from.

This chart shows the funding sources , which include:

  • $11 billion in funding through the regular GDOT program, including transit.
  • $1.5 billion in General Obligation and Guaranteed Revenue bonds
  • And a new $3 billion in GARVEE bonds.

We'll be announcing the details of the GO-GRB package in the near future.

But I can tell you today that the projects funded will be similar to last year's bond package, focused on arterial road improvements, express bus service and GRIP.

The GO-GRB program, in turn, will free up funds in the regular GDOT program.

Meanwhile, the GARVEE bonds are a new funding mechanism for Georgia.

GARVEEs allow us to use a portion of our future federal transportation dollars as collateral for bonds we can dedicate to improving our Interstate system.

We will carry out this GARVEE bond issue in an open and transparent process using our preferred method of competitive bids whenever possible.

Now, we're talking big numbers on these bond packages and for the overall program. But we've got a big problem to address.

I want to make it clear that we're spending what we must to solve the problem, but we're not spending more than we can afford.

Now let me summarize for you just some of the projects that this new GARVEE funding source will allow us to accelerate.

As I've said before, on congestion relief we want to pluck the low-hanging fruit that can give us short-term relief while we work toward long term solutions.

Short term relief includes:

  • $211 million to expand our Intelligent Transportation System and HERO coverage, to more safely and efficiently clear traffic incidents that disrupt the flow of traffic and cause delays. With this investment we want to reduce peak hour delays by 30 %.
  • $16 million to expand ramp metering which is controlling the flow of cars onto the highways at on-ramps. Implementation of this system can reduce peak hour delays by 7 %.
  • $116 million for traffic signal upgrades, including synchronization. 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.

These projects will help get moms and dads out of their cars and home to their families faster.

Our long term congestion relief will include:

  • $1.3 billion to accelerate expansion of HOV lanes to encourage carpools and greater bus ridership.
  • This map shows where we plan to have new HOV lanes under construction or design by 2010.
  • We will also allocate $286 million to implement two new transit corridors in the Atlanta region, providing commuters with transportation alternatives.

For economic development, we will make statewide improvements to our Interstate system

We are allocating $1.5 billion to add more than 400 new lane miles to rural I-75, I-85 and I-95 and urban interstate capacity.

This map shows in red the Interstate widening projects across the state, as well as the orange dots showing interchange upgrades.

Our interstates help put Georgia businesses within a 2-day truck or rail haul of 80% of US industrial markets. Georgia's highways are a valuable economic asset.

Maintaining and upgrading our highway capacity is a critical component of our economic development strategy.

But while our state and federal roads provide the backbone of the transportation system, more than 80% of our connecting roads are city and county maintained.

These local roads are also vital links in our transportation network.

That is why I am also announcing today that I have signed an executive order creating the Governor's Task Force on Local Transportation Strategies.

This 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.

To summarize, as a growing state, Georgia has tremendous transportation needs. The challenge is twofold:

Reduce congestion in the Atlanta region and improve access for economic development throughout the Georgia.

I have a vision for meeting those needs. I have brought our transportation agencies together to carry out that vision, guided by clear planning principles.

My Fast Forward program will help Georgians get to work and get back home to their families by relieving traffic congestion.

And it will ensure that we improve the road infrastructure that supports job growth and economic development in all regions of the state.

Fast Forward accomplishes these goals in an equitable and fiscally responsible way that meets our needs while staying within our means.

So I'm proud today to present this plan to Fast Forward Georgia into a growing and mobile future.