State Senators upset with GDOT’s lack of progress on alternative transportation

By Maria Saporta

A pretty amazing resolution was introduced this week that basically describes the Georgia Department of Transportation as incompetent when it comes to developing anything other than highways, roads and bridges.

Senate Resolution 1177 was introduced by some of the top senators in the state — Sen. Jeff Mullis (R – Chickamauga) who chairs the Senate Transportation Committee; Sen. Chip Rogers (R – Woodstock); Sen. Tommie Williams (R – Lyons); and Sen. Doug Stoner (D – Smyrna) among others.

Because of GDOT’s inability to develop alternative transportation modes, the resolution calls for the transfer of the Intermodal Division to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.

The resolution specifically mentions that “Georgia has fallen behind other states in developing other methods of transportation, including high speed rail and commuter rail…”

it also implies that GDOT is good at building roads and it should concentrate “on more traditional types of transportation infrastructure…”

The resolution goes on to say that GRTA has more expertise and experience in developing “all types of transportation alternatives for the people of this state….”

The resolution is significant in several ways. It points to the continued friction between the state legislature and GDOT. It attempts to circumvent a plan that GDOT had to demote the Intermodal Division. It also clearly shows the disappointment that some state leaders have had in Georgia’s recent inability to receive federal funds for rail projects.

Here is a copy of the resolution:

Senate Resolution 1177

By: Senators Mullis of the 53rd, Rogers of the 21st, Douglas of the 17th, Williams of the19th, Stoner of the 6th and others

A RESOLUTION

Directing the Georgia Department of Transportation to transfer the Intermodal Division to the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, the key to a bright future for this state depends upon the development of all types of modern transportation infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) does an outstanding job of constructing and maintaining the roads and bridges in this state, and that is and should be its primary focus; and

WHEREAS, Georgia has fallen behind other states in developing other methods transportation, including high speed rail and commuter rail, while concentrating on more traditional types of transportation infrastructure; and

WHEREAS, the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) has the expertise and experience to focus all of its resources on the development of all types of transportation alternatives for the people of this state and to maximize our resources to meet the challenges of the future.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE that the members of this body direct the commissioner of transportation to develop a plan to transfer the Intermodal Division from GDOT to GRTA in order to allow a greater focus on the development of alternative transportation options for the people of this state.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Secretary of the Senate is authorized and directed to transmit an appropriate copy of this resolution to the commissioner of transportation and the executive director of GRTA.

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

9 replies
  1. Transportation Planner says:

    When GRTA was created, they hired a few of the best rail planners in the country. When Perdue came into power, GRTA had to change their titles to “hide” the fact that they were rail specialists. I believe they now work on bus route planning and park-n-ride lots.

    This is a great step for GRTA and for intermodal transportation in the state. But it doesn’t really matter if there’s no money behind the planning. If GRTA can’t get even a small portion of the federal dollars that is funneled to GDOT, what’s the point? Georgia has a deep history of planning for intermodal transportation- but never funding it. Look at the Multi-modal Passenger Terminal downtown- the first detailed plan for that was done in 1992!! Where is it today?Report

    Reply
  2. Happenstance says:

    “But it doesn’t really matter if there’s no money behind the planning. If GRTA can’t get even a small portion of the federal dollars that is funneled to GDOT, what’s the point?”

    There was money AVAILABLE, but Georgia didn’t have any viable, shovel-ready plans. So, the stimulus money went to our nearest competitors: NC and FL.

    Maybe, just maybe, GEORGIA will get its act together with this newest resolution. HopefullyReport

    Reply
  3. Yr1215 says:

    Happenstance – I don’t think any of us are legal specialists. The point Transportation Planner, I think, may have been making is that there generally isn’t a federal mechanism to fund transportation dollars through anything other than the state DOT. In other words, it may be that the money still has to go through DOT. I, for one, have no idea.

    I don’t know if this idea qualifies as good governmental organization, good policy, or good law. If it does, and helps make transportation happen, it’s a great idea. It would be interesting to hear from some transportation specialists and legal advisors on the soundness of this idea.Report

    Reply
  4. Do some research says:

    AGAIN, it was the legislature and governor that passed and signed SB 200 last year that eliminated the division of intermodal programs. GDOT has no choice under this statute. The bill clearly defined which divisions the Department will and can have – none of which included intermodal. This is an obvious effort on the part of GRTA to save their over compensated skins.Report

    Reply
  5. Smell the Coffee says:

    “Do some Research” is closer to the truth – it is not GDOT (or GRTA for that matter) – it is a Republican Governor who did not value transportation for seven years of his term and a state legislature that should be accountable for not getting “crumbs” for high speed rail. Georgia residents are held hostage and we still are unable to match the Federal commuter rail earmark with state funds. We don’t even have funds to match the $750,000 Federal rail planning money (50-50) – it is a constitutional issue and a leadership issue – wake-up and smell the coffee – while we may not pay taxes, we sure won’t have infrastructure – you can bet on it.Report

    Reply
  6. Smell the Coffee says:

    One other comment – One thing we have learned over the past year of “witch hunts” that have substituted for transportation policy in Georgia – Georgia’s Transportation Board is absolutely powerless to influence, let along direct, transportation policy set by the legislature or Governor. Right now we have neither the leadership nor the funding necessary to give give the people and businesses of Georgia the multimodal transportation system they need and deserve.Report

    Reply
  7. ACC 12 Booster says:

    “A pretty amazing resolution was introduced this week that basically describes the Georgia Department of Transportation as incompetent when it comes to developing anything other than highways, roads and bridges.”

    The Georgia Department of Transportation became competent at developing highways, roads and bridges!!!!!? When did this happen? Must have just happened just this minute because they’ve got a reputation of being terribly inccompetent at attempting to build and develop roads, too, though I hear that the “geniuses” over at GDOT can laydown a mean layer of fresh new pavement. Although, I doubt that $430 million dollars of unpaid invoices crammed into a desk at GDOT Headquarters is the type of “competence” at roadbuilding that the public was thinking of.Report

    Reply
  8. L Clifton Oliver II says:

    Just what I said we needed to do. GDOT can not spend its funds on anything other than roads and bridges – Why should they be to “go to” agency for alternative transportation when they are constitutionally restricted from using their funds to build, operate or maintain rail transportation?

    Here’s what Georgia must do to be successful!

    http://www.examiner.com/x-25727-Atlanta-Metro-Transportation-Examiner~y2010m1d4-Legislators-2010-Transportation-Needs-in-GeorgiaReport

    Reply

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