Georgia boasts the busiest airport in the world with Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. We have one of the fastest-growing seaports with Georgia Ports Authority in Savannah. Our railways and interstate infrastructure can carry goods and services throughout our state.
While we have these incredible assets, we also have a population of almost 10 million and growing. Our infrastructure must continue to keep pace with our population and economic growth in order to remain competitive.
Congestion costs our state jobs, it costs our families time together and it costs our citizens overall productivity. In fact, some of the most congested roads in Georgia are found in Fulton County, the county I represent. It is time we take the steps necessary to relieve congestion. If we do not, businesses will choose to locate elsewhere because they cannot afford for their workers to sit in traffic for hours each day. We must continue to explore transportation funding options as well as innovative projects that will relieve congestion.
In recent legislative sessions, Republicans have taken several steps forward toward transformational change regarding transportation. In 2009, the legislature boldly took back ownership of statewide transportation planning and budgeting. Many of these functions sat in the hands of 13 Department of Transportation Board Members. They serve five year terms and control $2 billion in yearly dedicated gasoline tax revenues.
Now greater accountability within the DOT will be possible for citizens as much of the decision-making control now rests with the People's elected representatives.
In 2010, the legislature passed a bill to allow voters to decide in a 2012 referendum if they want to invest more for transportation improvements based on a specific project list. If the answer is yes, citizens will also have a direct say in what infrastructure improvements will be made and how long it will take to make them.
There will not be one silver bullet to update our infrastructure, but we must continue to seek ways to make certain our current and future transportation needs are met in order to keep Georgia moving forward.