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Lt. Gov., speaker unveil transportation plan
Legislators setting agendas for January
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ATLANTA -- Often portrayed as political rivals, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and House Speaker Glenn Richardson are coming together in an effort to improve Georgia's transportation infrastructure.

Cagle and Richardson unveiled the rough outlines of their plan Monday at the final meeting of a legislative committee studying how to fund improvements to Georgia's roads.

Traffic congestion is cited frequently as a problem throughout the booming metro Atlanta area.

"We cannot afford to let the issue of improving transportation in the most heavily congested parts of our state become endangered by the political process during the next session, and we are moving now to work toward a process improvement package that we believe can pass both chambers of the legislature early in the session," Cagle and Richardson said in a joint statement.

The announcement by Republicans Richardson and Cagle comes the day after fellow Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue said he may put forward a plan of his own once a task force he has studying the issue reports back to him early next month.

Perdue has faced criticism for failing to address the issue in the last legislative session. That Cagle and Richardson are putting forward a sweeping plan was viewed by some as rebuke of the governor.

Cagle and Richardson said their plan is aimed at moving projects to completion more rapidly. That could involve limiting the ability of other state agencies to bring projects to a standstill by fining the state Department of Transportation..

It would create a "value engineer" within the department to review all major projects. It would also increase the use of cost-saving design-build contracts.

Cagle and Richardson said they will offer more specific proposals after seeing the results of an audit they requested of the state Department of Transportation.

Perdue's task force is charged with determining what kind of value the state gets for its transportation investment.

"The way to get me to invest more is tell me that we are getting a great deal now in value," Perdue said.

"We're looking at all alternatives," Perdue told reporters.

Cagle and Richardson are both believed to be eyeing a possible run for governor in 2010 when Perdue leaves office.

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