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Friday, April 26, 2013 - 11:57am

No More Balancing For Interstates

A recent change to Georgia’s transportation funding laws could mean local projects get money more quickly.

The governor signed the law last week. It removes interstate and freight corridor projects from a mandate that most road funding is spread equally among the state’s 14 congressional districts – a policy called “congressional balancing.” The idea behind the long-standing law was to make sure funding was spread fairly across the state since each district has the same number of residents.

It has also meant expensive projects – for example, widening I-95 in southeast Georgia – leave little money for other improvements in that district.

“The thinking is, by providing relief especially on interstates, you’re ensuring that when you do have that improvement, you’re not killing or crowding out other projects in that congressional district,” said Joshua Waller, policy and government affairs director at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“They’re used by the whole state. They’re used by people from other states. So they have a value beyond a congressional district -- they have a value for everyone -- and if you do those projects, the thinking should be that they shouldn’t count against that congressional district,” Waller said.

Waller said the state transportation board still must decide which roads in the state will be classified as “freight corridors.”