- US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood emphasized in his speech to a room full of state legislators "Georgia better get its act together" (feds won't give funding without local matched commitments)
- HB277 (T-SPLOST) will likely generate $714 Million its first year
- T-SPLOST is necessary to fulfill funding losses from people driving less and paying less in gas tax, and it's multi-modal!!
- Focus is on alternate funding ideas and HB277 is a certainly a start; Dubose Porter insisted the 4th penny sales tax is the way to take existing money and reallocate it to transportation funding and to show the feds we have a plan!
- Richard Mendoza, Atlanta Public Works Commissioner (like our David Clark) said priorities should be on fixing existing infrastructure and diversifying mode investment (yeah to bike/ped!!) He referenced bikes and the recent Streets Alive event in Atlanta that attracted over 5,000 folks for cicolovia afternoon festival.
- Athens Multi-Modal Transportation Center (future passenger rail terminal) got a shout out from Dubose Porter for being ready to go!
- GA road systems are excellent, but we've passed up huge federal funding for passenger rail and other modalities
- If we get passenger rail, the Macon - Atlanta line will likely be first recipient and is a perfect first project because the Ford plant closure has left the line much freer from former heavy freight use so its a perfect time to put passengers on the line.
- NC passenger rail story is a huge success and the result of decades of vision
- Major economic development benefits from passenger rail investment referenced
- Kudos to existing infrastructure which positions us best when applying for federal funding (including Athens Multi-Modal Center)
- The intermodal family of Georgia also includes sea & air and referenced the support for the plan to deepen Savannah's port 47 feet to accommodate freight once the Panama Canal opens and is deemed as a huge coup for the state if Georgia is ready; also of note is 90% of Georgians are now 2 hours from an airport according to Carol Comer, DOT Aviation Program Mgr
- Regional commissions will need to collaborate with other regions along rail corridors
- Strategies for making it happen: POLITICAL WILL, LEADERSHIP, and COLLABORATION
Let us know your thoughts on the Discussion listserv (firstname.lastname@example.org), and we'll pass that on to these state leaders. We will be meeting with the Board of Georgians for Passenger Rail again soon.