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GEORGIA DOT IN BUDGET CRISIS

A state audit recently revealed that the Georgia DOT (DOT) has a $456 million dollar budget shortfall. The Georgia Constitution does not allow a state agency to run a deficit.Thus, the State Board of Transportation has had scramble to cut funding for road projects in 2010.

The DOT is governed by a 13-member State Board of Transportation.The Board decides which public roads will be part of the state highway system, approves long-range construction projects, oversees construction projects and administers lease agreements among other duties.

Audit problems have waylaid the big budget road projects as the DOT faces an $8 billion dollar shortfall over the next six years.If the Georgia Legislature approves the 2010 budget, thirty percent of the state’s main road budget will go for payments on previous road project commitments.Much of the road budget goes to repaving, repairs and maintenance.There will be less money for new construction of highways, safer interchanges, and bridge replacement.

As reported in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution this month, the DOT slowdown has cost 10,000 jobs in road building and engineering.Internally, the DOT plans to lay off hundreds of workers, eliminate unfilled jobs, freeze pay raises and cut health care benefits.Eleven local road projects across the state have been taken off the drawing board.

How does this affect our state?Our highways, roads and public transportation contribute to virtually everything of value in our economy and in our lives.Roads link businesses to suppliers and customers. Roads bring jobs, health care, education, government and recreation within our reach.Economists have determined that public investment in surface transportation increases economic output, reduces prices, raises incomes and raises profits.

For example, a new highway makes it possible for a rural region to attract new industry, creating jobs and tax revenues.Low-income residents who gain expanded access to public transportation systems suddenly have access to jobs, which cuts unemployment, raises income, and creates tax revenue.

According to Cambridge Systematics, Inc, a transportation consulting firm, every $1 of tax income invested in public transportation generates $6 in economic returns.Standard & Poor’s asserts that highway investment has been shown to stimulate the economy more than any other fiscal policy.

Poor roads and underfunded infrastructure lead to highway safety problems and congestion.The U.S. Department of Transportation analysis shows that 42,000 people are killed in highways annually.According to these reports, poorly maintained roads are responsible for a third of those injuries.

As our economy continues to tumble both on a state and national level, the cost to Georgia citizens for a slowdown in road development and maintenance is enormous.Not only will this hurt Georgians economically, it raises the risk of driving.Let’s hope the DOT budget gets back on track.

However, if a poor road design or poorly maintained road causes an accident for which you or someone you love is injured, the law firm of Robert N. Katz can help you.Contact us today for a free consultation on your claim.