This legislative session we took steps to address Georgia’s critical transportation infrastructure needs. This bill, which was recently signed into law, will generate nearly $945 million in new revenue annually and decrease Georgia’s reliance on the federal government for future transportation funding.
We made tough decisions and tackled this issue head-on. From a public safety perspective, it’s our duty to ensure that our state’s bridges, roads and other infrastructure are well maintained. We have 15,000 bridges in this state and 4,200 of them are structurally deficient. That is unacceptable. From an economic development and quality of life perspective, we must facilitate major transportation projects to meet the needs of our growing population.
This legislation reprioritizes transportation funding— Georgia now has a sustainable and reliable source for infrastructure maintenance and new capacity.
Before this bill became law, 68 percent of transportation funding in Georgia came from Washington. To put that into perspective, only 27 percent of Florida’s transportation money comes from the federal government and the rest is state money. This allows Florida the flexibility to use federal dollars for maintenance, resurfacing and bridge repair.
In Georgia, we must rely on federal dollars to fund our capital projects. In order to gain access to those dollars, we must weed through levels of bureaucracy and pages upon pages of regulations. In fact, it could take several months if not years before project funding is green-lighted.
HB 170 puts Georgia in the driver’s seat and works to remove Washington bureaucrats from the equation. The Federal Highway Trust fund is broken and continuing to rely on the federal government to fund our most critical needs has historically proven itself unsuccessful.
This new state revenue is dedicated solely to transportation and it’s money that can be spent immediately. Georgia now has the ability to prioritize projects and completed them in a quicker, more efficient manner.
I voted for a bill that some have deemed a tax increase, but I believe I voted for the biggest quality-of-life improvement for the citizens of the metro area in the last 20 years. This bill will allow citizens more time with their families by decreasing congestion. This bill will help us maintain our designation as the No. 1 state in the nation in which to do business. This bill paves the way for a better Georgia.
State Sen. Brandon Beach, R-North Fulton & Cherokee County, serves as Chair of the Science and Technology Committee and Secretary of the Transportation Committee.