Georgia bills boost truck fees, stretch road money

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/19/2013

Georgia lawmakers are working on bills that would increase certain truck fees, get road work done sooner and cost less.

The House voted to advance a bill that would cost many professional drivers more to register their trucks.

Georgia now charges $725 a year for registration under the International Registration Plan. Unchanged since 2009, the fee is the lowest in the nation.

The bill would increase IRP rates to $950 a year. In addition, local ad valorem taxes on affected vehicles would be included in the registration payment.

HB463 is awaiting consideration in the Senate Finance Committee.

Another bill halfway through the statehouse is supposed to help get transportation work done sooner.

Senate lawmakers unanimously approved a bill to expand the Georgia Department of Transportation’s ability to use the “design-build” method for planning and working on projects.

The design-build process allows contractors to submit plans to design and construct each project. Typically, one firm designs a highway and another builds it, with the two tasks bid separately.

Advocates say the change sought in SB70 would speed up construction on transportation projects.

Also included in the bill is a provision that does away with a requirement that contracts go to the low bidder. GDOT would be allowed to award contracts based on “best value.”

The bill is in the House Transportation Committee.

A separate effort would enact two changes within the state DOT that are intended to reduce project costs and improve funding opportunities.

Rep. Bubber Epps, R-Dry Branch, said the changes will help GDOT save money. “It will also bring transportation funding to areas that need it the most,” he said in a news release.

Georgia law requires GDOT to perform value engineering studies on all construction projects with combined costs of at least $10 million.

House lawmakers voted unanimously to send to the Senate a bill that would raise the minimum required project cost for value engineering studies to $50 million, which mirrors recent changes to federal requirements.

HB202 would exempt interstate projects from congressional balancing. It would also exempt freight routes if the route is approved by the state transportation board.

“The expense require to maintain and expand interstates should not be counted against a district,” Epps said.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Georgia, click here.

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