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This Week Under the Gold Dome: Roads, Rails, and Crosswalks

Posted on March 09, 2015

By: Kyle Hayes

The House made it closer to the home stretch of session last week by voting on one of Georgia’s most important challenges. Check out the all transportation edition of This Week Under the Gold Dome.

Transportation Funding Clears House

On Thursday, the House passed legislation injecting almost $1 billion into Georgia’s roads and bridges. The bill, spurred by last year’s study committee, will allow the state to return to a normal maintenance schedule, including vital deferred maintenance work on the state’s aging bridges.

The bill has been amongst the high profile legislative issues this session and was held open for debate for two hours on the House floor. Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Roberts began debate by reassuring House members that transportation is a statewide issue and money raised by statewide gas taxes would not be only spent in Atlanta. After Chairman Roberts, other supporters of the bill highlighted the need for Georgia to act now on our transportation needs. They noted that over half of Georgia’s transportation funding comes from the federal government, and Congress’ inability to fully fund transportation needs creates problems for Georgia projects. This spurs the need for Georgia to act now to ensure our bridges and roads are safe.

The legislation received bipartisan support with 50 Democrats, 72 Republicans, and the House’s lone Independent all voting yea. The bill will now move to the Senate where it is expected to see changes. The two chambers will have to reach consensus on a bill before Legislative Day 40 if Georgia’s transportation needs are to be addressed this year.

MARTA Financing Reforms

The house also passed legislation changing the longstanding 50-50 rule for MARTA. Previously, MARTA was required to spend half of its revenue on capital projects and the other half of revenue on maintenance and operations. This created flexibility problems for the transit system in lean years.

Thursday, the House adopted legislation that would permanently end the 50-50 rule and instead require that MARTA conduct a financial audit every four years. This would allow greater flexibility for a transit system that has seen increased ridership and improving finances in recent years.

This bill also moves to the Senate for their consideration.

Spencer’s Crosswalk Bill Gets A Committee Hearing

This week kicks off with a committee hearing for House Bill 417 , the crosswalk bill introduced by Rep. Frye. This bill will require that drives stop at crosswalks when LED lights are activated and works to improve pedestrian safety in Athens and across the state. If the bill is approved in committee, it will need to receive favorable consideration from the House before Crossover Day on Friday.

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