Friday, February 20, 2009

Reforming Georgia’s Transportation System

By: Governor Sonny Perdue, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, and Speaker Glenn Richardson

Over the last six years, Georgia has invested heavily in transportation improvements, yet commuters are still stuck in traffic and economic development corridors still have not been expanded. As frustrating as it is to acknowledge, we have not achieved the value that we believe Georgians deserve because of a lack of focus, transparency and accountability at the Department of Transportation.

We share a commitment to do better. As the three people most accountable to Georgians, we announced a proposal this week that would completely transform the way we think about delivering transportation solutions in our state and dramatically improve the way transportation projects are planned, constructed and maintained.

The basic premise of this proposal is simple – transportation policy decisions should be made in a strategic manner by people who are representing the best interests of the entire state. And the decisions these people make should be executed in a manner that provides for transparency and accountability to the legislature and the people of Georgia.

The current structure of the DOT fails both of these. By relying on a board that represents congressional districts elected every few years by caucuses of legislators, the existing structure encourages parochial thinking and insulates the agency from those who are elected to serve our citizens. And the fact that this unaccountable board maintains sole discretion over a dedicated funding stream of over $2 billion provides very little transparency to the governor, the legislature and the people of this state that the money they receive is spent in an efficient and strategic manner.

Citizens and legislators alike have expressed their frustration with a lack of progress in transportation in Georgia, and a tangled web of bureaucracy that makes it virtually impossible to hold anyone accountable.

The proposal we have jointly developed will end that confusion. Combining the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority into the State Transportation Authority will create a lead organization responsible for implementing a clear, understandable plan to address Georgia’s statewide needs.

We are committed to standing up a system of transportation project delivery that is more transparent and more accountable. And it demands that a statewide, strategic plan is developed and a mechanism for budget appropriation, which is voted upon by every citizen’s state representative and senator, to ensure that plan is implemented.

But most of all, it places the burden of meeting our state’s transportation needs in the hands of those elected by and responsible to the people of Georgia. Given that responsibility, we are willing to continue to be accountable to the people of Georgia for the results.
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