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Governor Perdue Announces Blueprint for Regional Transit Expansion

Thursday, May 15, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Plan Focused On Cost-Effective Solutions for Transportation Needs

Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue announced yesterday the release of a Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) Report that will serve as a blueprint for regional transit expansion in the metro Atlanta region. The GRTA report encourages the use of bus rapid transit technology. Additionally, Governor Perdue announced the creation of the Traffic Operations Task Force to address traffic flow issues in the region, including traffic signal synchronization.

"Transportation is an important issue to Georgians and my administration. I firmly believe that we must direct our initial efforts toward relieving traffic congestion on our highways and in our communities," said Governor Perdue. "We can start by making critical improvements that will increase mobility around the region in a short period of time."

"There is clear regional cooperation at work here and I commend GRTA and all of its partners, both public and private, for bringing the region together to put these plans into action. Coordination and cooperation remains critical to the continued development of an effective statewide transportation system," added Governor Perdue.

Governor Perdue attended the GRTA Board of Directors (Board) meeting today. The draft concept of GRTA's Regional Transit Action Plan (RTAP) was presented to the Governor and the Board during the meeting. A blueprint for transit investment in the region, the RTAP calls for cost-effective use of Bus Rapid Transit as part of an overall set of goals for preserving and maintaining existing transit infrastructure and expanding it to serve the needs of the growing metropolitan Atlanta region.

GRTA will hold public meetings later this summer to present and discuss the RTAP draft concept plan.

Additionally, the Governor's office will work in cooperation with GRTA, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Atlanta Regional Commission to lead a Traffic Operations Task Force for the region to address traffic flow issues. The task force will identify and implement cost-effective, short-term solutions for traffic bottlenecks throughout the region, beginning with a project to synchronize the more than 3,000 traffic signals in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

Text of the Governor's Prepared Remarks for the GRTA Board Meeting

(Please note that Governor Perdue may have deviated from prepared remarks)

We are all aware that transportation is a major issue here in metropolitan Atlanta and indeed, throughout the state. And it's appropriate that now, during National Transportation Week, that we turn our attention to that issue.

We must ensure that we make cost-effective investments in our transportation system and that those investments result in improved efficiency and safety.

We have some good news to share with the people of greater Atlanta today.

Here in metropolitan Atlanta, air quality has a major impact on how we invest in transportation infrastructure. As you are aware, smog season started this month. Right now we are concerned about ozone pollution. In the not-too-distant future we are going to have to meet even tougher standards for pollution.

GRTA's annual air quality report, which addresses these issues for the governor each year, shows that we've made great strides in our air quality improvement. We are making great strides forward not only on the industrial side, but also, as this report shows, on the transportation side.

This is great news for our families, the environment and for keeping Georgia an attractive place to live and work.

When it comes to transportation investments, it is time we were guided by a little common sense. We must put our efforts, and our money, into projects that are going to address, cost effectively, the region's traffic congestion needs as well as its air quality issues.

I firmly believe that if we put our efforts into getting the simple solutions done now and plan cost-effective projects for the near future that we can build on our progress and make some improvements that people can benefit from in a short period of time.

I am pleased that GRTA and its partners are working on projects that address both issues.

For example, traffic lights. It's just common sense that we time our traffic signals to make the flow of traffic work. But with more than 80 jurisdictions in this region and more than 3,000 traffic signals, it has been harder than it needs to be to get everything coordinated.

Here is where GRTA, with its ability to act regionally and bring governments together, can step in. GRTA will coordinate, in cooperation with my office, the Atlanta Regional Commission and the Georgia DOT, a Traffic Operations Task Force for the region.

One of that group's first tasks will be to work on signal coordination. This task force will be become a clearinghouse on ideas that we can accomplish in the short-term to relieve some of our most nagging bottlenecks.

This is a cost-effective approach that can provide traffic improvements in a relatively short period of time.

Through its regional transit action plan - "R-TAP" - GRTA has been working on the blueprint for a truly regional transit system. The draft concept plan is ready to go out for final review, and I am very pleased with it.

GRTA and its consultants, with help from concerned citizens and the business community, looked at where the demand and likelihood of ridership is in this region. They have outlined a system of regional bus transit that can serve that market demand.

In doing this, they have also come up with a set of principles that makes sure we preserve and maintain our existing transit systems, expands local service so you can get to those bus rapid transit routes, and makes using transit a positive and pleasant experience.

Now, the "R-TAP" has to be reviewed and polished. GRTA has outlined the system, but they have to refine it, and they will develop a financial plan, including federal, state and local resources.

Others are working hard on these problems as well. The Atlanta Regional Commission is building an aspirations-based transportation plan for the entire region. That plan will outline the projects that need to be done to lessen traffic congestion and improve our entire transportation system so it can deal with the continuing growth of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

GRTA will continue in its role as an agent for action, respecting local needs and priorities, but it will help by bringing state and local government together with the people of the region so we can continue to rise above the barriers that hinder acting together as a region.

I expect that GRTA will continue to work cooperatively with all our state agencies including the Georgia Department of Transportation to improve transportation infrastructure.

And all of us will work with our federal and private sector partners to ensure that air quality continues to improve, that we reduce traffic congestion on our roads, and that we have the necessary transit and transportation choices available to ensure that metropolitan Atlanta, and Georgia's, quality of life continues to improve and stays the best in the nation.

Thank you.