Georgia Transportation Builder - Summer 2010 - (Page 10)

ExecutiveDirector’sMessage We Must Band Together By David Moellering, Executive Director, Georgia Highway Contractors Association s we enter the heart of construction season, we do so with hesitation. While we’ve seen many projects let under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Stimulus Bill, and even an extension of the Federal Highway Bill (SAFETEA-LU), we are still far short of funding. Over the past few years, we’ve all seen a vital industry devastated by a combination of poor policy and worsening economic conditions. Turning back the clock to FY 2007, Georgia’s DOT road program peaked at an all-time high, topping out around $2.5 billion dollars. Just two short years later, in FY2009, the program declined 75 percent to roughly $520 million. To compound the situation, during that same period, both the commercial and private construction markets also declined. As a result, our industry was hit hard. According to recent economic estimates, our industry has suffered an average 27 percent unemployment rate, well above Georgia’s 10 percent statewide unemployment rate. Georgia’s revenues have continued to shrink, and with them, so has the state’s road and bridge construction program. If not for the welcomed addition of the ARRA funds, it would have been much worse. It’s critical that Georgia find additional State and Federal Funding to keep up with the growing infrastructure needs of this state. During this past state legislative session, we supported a number of pieces of legislation that we believed would bring new state funding for transportation. Over the past three legislative sessions, we have seen various attempts to pass a one cent sales tax dedicated to transportation, however, these attempts pitted differing geographical philosophies against one another. The debate centered on the need for either a regional sales tax or a statewide sales tax, causing a divide between rural and metro legislators. The primary reason that new funding has continually failed to yield results, however, is because A Georgia’s political leaders have had a hard time garnering the votes for any piece of legislation that includes a tax increase. Finally, this year, legislators realized the critical need, compromised and passed a regional funding plan. The passage of the Transportation Funding bill (HB 277) gives the citizens of our state the opportunity in 2012 to vote for a one cent sales tax to fund their regional needs. If this funding becomes a reality, we could see those additional funds flow by 2014. In the meantime, what do we do? This November, we’ll vote on a referendum that is a result of SR 821. The question on the ballot will ask Georgia voters to approve an accounting change at GDOT. If approved, GDOT will begin handling project funding in a different way. Currently, GDOT has to set aside all of the funds needed for each project at the time it is contracted. Under the new method, GDOT will only have to set aside the funds needed to meet the obligations of the current year. This change will allow additional projects to be let with money they are currently holding for the future needs of ongoing projects. Regardless of all these potential additional program funds, we still need a new Federal Highway Funding Bill. Now more than ever, we need to be encouraging our United States Congressmen and Senators to support a new Federal Highway Bill that is dedicated to road and bridge infrastructure. Recently, legislation by two U.S. Senators, Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I-CT), was introduced to increase the Federal gas tax. Normally, that would be a reasonable solution; however, in this legislation the gas tax increase would not be used to fund road and bridge projects, but instead would fund “Global Warming” or “Climate Change” initiatives. This erosion of the motor fuel tax is something that we as an industry need to vehemently oppose. We must encourage our Representatives to support infrastructure funding only. Over the last ten years, we have seen unimaginable growth throughout Georgia, growth that has brought many benefits economically to the state. However, the issue we continually face is maintaining a roadway system that is capable of accommodating the many growth areas in the state. To do this, we must restore the funds needed to expand our roadways as they continue to become more and more congested. Even if we didn’t build any new roads, just maintaining the system we already have requires additional funding. Traditionally, GDOT tries to touch its entire road system every ten years or 10 percent. Today, due to limited funds, they touch about 3 percent. The need has not changed, but the funding has. The measures discussed earlier can add additional funds to the system and can help revitalize our industry, which can, in turn, reignite our struggling local economy. Now more than ever, the members of the Georgia Highway Contractors Association must band together and use its combined strength to see its way through these tough economic conditions. ● 10 | GEORGIA TRANSPORTATION BUILDER

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Transportation Builder - Summer 2010

Georgia Transportation Builder - Summer 2010
President’s Message
A Message from the Commissioner
Executive Director’s Message
Michael Williams Takes a Conservative Approach to Business Success
2010 GHCA Convention
2009 GPTQ Quality in Construction Awards
Transportation Legislation Passes Georgia’s General Assembly
News & Notes
Index to Advertisers

Georgia Transportation Builder - Summer 2010