By David Pendered
Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Atlanta’s chief of road and transportation construction projects to the board that oversees GRTA, which advises on Xpress bus service in metro Atlanta and authorizes state and federal spending on transportation in metro Atlanta.
Faye DiMassimo, general manager of the Renew Atlanta-TSPLOST program, was named to GRTA’s board Sept. 6. The announcement drew little attention in the ramp-up to Hurricane Irma. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s administration issued a statement Sept. 15.
“I am pleased that Gov. Nathan Deal has appointed Faye DiMassimo to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Board of Directors,” Reed said in the statement. “Since joining our team, Ms. DiMassimo has brought a tremendous level of expertise and leadership to the $250 million Renew Atlanta infrastructure bond program.”
Deal’s selection of an Atlanta city official appears to underscore the good state of relations Deal and Reed have enjoyed.
At GRTA, DiMassimo will serve on a 15-member board that has widespread influence over transportation issues in metro Atlanta and across the state. DiMassimo succeeds former GRTA board member Al Knight.
DiMassimo arrives at GRTA as the state-level agency is managing its merger with the State Road and Tollway Authority. The consolidation process has been underway for about a year. GRTA’s staff and functions were merged into SRTA’s staff and functions. The governor chairs the board that oversees SRTA.
The responsibility for operating the Xpress bus system in 13 metro counties shifted July 1 from GRTA to SRTA. GRTA’s board is to serve as an advisory body to SRTA on transit issues. GRTA will continue to be the access point the public can access to express opinions about Xpress service.
The governor had been prompting consolidation in services provided by the two agencies. Deal did so by naming Chris Tomlinson to serve as executive director of both of the state-level agencies.
In addition to advising on transit, GRTA’s board approves the allocation of state and federal transportation funding in metro Atlanta via the Atlanta Transportation Improvement Program. The TIP is assembled by the Atlanta Regional Commission in close cooperation with GRTA’s board.
GRTA remains responsible for reviewing plans of large proposed developments. The Legislature shifted the review of developments of regional interest from planning agencies, such as the ARC, to GRTA. GRTA now determines if the proposed developments are in a region’s “best interests.”
Finally, GRTA serves as the Governor’s Development Council. The council has statewide purview to advise the governor on economic development and planning activities. One recent task was to investigate ways the state can curb expected price hikes in the cost of providing transport in rural areas to those in need of chronic medical care, such as dialysis.
DiMassimo joined Reed’s administration in December 2015. Reed placed her in charge of the $250 million Renew Atlanta program, which Atlanta voters approved in March 2015.
DiMassimo will oversee the design, construction and completion of more than 200 transportation and municipal facility projects, including construction of the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Natatorium in the Historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood.
DiMassimo’s execution of the program prompted Reed to put her in charge of the transit and transportation improvements voters approved in November 2016. Voters overwhelmingly agreed to impose a 0.4 percent sales tax increase, to sunset after five years. Money collected through the tax is to pay for a projected $300 million in transit and transportation upgrades.