ELECTION 2014: Georgia gubernatorial candidates on transportation

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/13/2014

Georgia ballots next month will include various races and issues that address local, state and federal concerns. One race that could have a lasting impact on transportation policy in the state is for the governor’s seat.

Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is running for a second term against Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter.

Deal has advocated for the state to pursue public-private partnerships to get work done to help address congestion concerns.

“Our traffic woes pose one of the greatest threats to our economic expansion,” he previously stated.

He also pushed for the demolition of toll booths along the Georgia 400 in Atlanta. During his run for governor four years ago, Deal said he would remove tolls on the roadway once all bond debts were paid off.

“I made a promise that the tolls would end when the bond debt was paid, and I’m proud to stand here today to mark the end of that debt,” Deal previously stated.

The state Department of Transportation now uses fuel tax revenue to maintain the Georgia 400.

Carter, who sits on the Georgia Senate Transportation Committee, has said that transportation is a legislative priority. In order to move forward and get needed work done, he has called for the state to “embrace a variety of robust transportation options.”

He has advocated for expanding transit alternatives to help alleviate the billions lost each year in fuel and lost productivity that result from traffic congestion.

“If Georgia is going to compete for new jobs and other resources, we need a transportation plan that goes beyond expanding our existing highways.”

Both candidates have talked about the importance of Georgia as a transportation center in the region.

Since Deal took office in 2011, he has touted deepening the Port of Savannah in anticipation of the widening of the Panama Canal and making improvements to infrastructure in southeast Georgia to accommodate the increased cargo.

The project took a step forward last week when Deal announced an agreement between state and federal agencies to clear the way for the $706 million project to get underway in the next two months.

“After years of regulatory purgatory, we finally cleared the last hurdle and hope to begin dredging in the Savannah River before the end of the year,” Deal said in a news release.

Carter, a grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, said he is glad the project will soon get underway.

“I am pleased that after 20 years, the Savannah Harbor deepening can finally move forward,” Carter stated.

He also said the state is in this position because Georgia’s congressional delegation worked across party lines.

Voters in Georgia can already cast their ballots for the fall election. Early voting started on Monday, Oct. 13.

For more of Land Line’s coverage of the Georgia governor’s race, click here.

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