Georgia faces road-funding crunch

| Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Facing a transportation budget hole of $74 billion during the next 30 years has officials in Georgia scrambling for alternate revenue sources for road and bridge.

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the statewide transportation plan has a price tag of $160 billion. However, there is only $86 billion in revenue expected from 2005 until 2035, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The lack of money stems from increased building materials' costs. During the past decade, the cost of asphalt nearly tripled while concrete is 50 percent more expensive and steel and iron prices have jumped 75 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Other factors in the state's fight to fund road and bridge work are the competition for labor and materials for construction projects around the nation, specifically in the hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast. A building boom in China also is playing a part in higher costs.

An expected slowdown in federal road dollars also is contributing to the problem.

The funding crunch has forced officials at the Georgia DOT to "reprioritize" certain projects and put them off until next year.

GDOT spokeswoman Karlene Barron told the Times Free Press the state has begun using public-private initiatives to offset the costs of road building.

Three public-private projects already are under way in the Atlanta area. Another project on Interstate 285 is in the works.

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