Top state officials say Wednesday’s signing of the transportation funding bill will be the catalyst to relieve gridlock and spur economic development across Georgia.
Flanked by top legislative leaders and transportation officials, Governor Sonny Perdue signed the measure at the Capitol. Several years in the making, the bill creates regional groups to decide on lists of projects. Those groups would include county commission chairmen, mayors, and state appointees. In two years, voters would decide whether to support the projects with a penny sales tax.
Perdue says he’ll now head-out across the state to sell the benefits of the bill to local communities:
“I think it’s incumbent upon local governments, these councils to come together to develop a good mix of local projects as well as statewide interconnecting projects to come together. And we will submit that to the voters.”
During the General Assembly, lawmakers wrangled over how much control the state would have over project lists.
Jim Dove of the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission says if voters are reluctant to approve a tax for projects, he’d sell it this way:
“We have a great interstate highway system going through this state. Let’s have that penny sales tax on there so that we can let some of the others that are visiting our state help pay for our improvements just as we do when we go visit their states.”
Dove says local officials in northeast Georgia are anxious to get going with deciding on projects. One he’d like to see funded—upgrades to Highway 316, connecting Atlanta to Athens.
Governor Perdue says expects about $3 billion will be available over the next decade to fund transportation work.