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Measure would reform DOT
The people's business
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The Senate was hard at work again this week, boldly tackling difficult issues facing our state. One of the issues at the top of that list is transportation.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of addressing transportation this session. I was extremely proud to unveil four pieces of legislation with the lieutenant governor during a press conference on Thursday. This legislation will bring reforms to the Department of Transportation that will allow us to move forward with more flexibility and accountability.
·_ The first reform will require the DOT Commissioner to establish benchmarks to provide accountability and oversight on each phase of the construction process for projects over $10 million. Value engineering will be implemented to find and use cost effective ways for designing, building and maintaining future projects. The DOT will issue a report annually on the success of cost savings attained through value engineering.
· I am also excited about reforming how we do road design and construction. Removing the cap on design-build DOT projects will allow for greater flexibility, cost savings and shorten the length of time on construction projects. The design-build legislation will allow the DOT to maximize their resources and use innovative techniques to accomplish their goals on projects.
· One of the most important pieces of legislation to be introduced will allow an amendment to the Georgia constitution enabling local governments to participate in a Transportation SPLOST. I am not, and will not be in favor of a state mandated tax of any kind. This T-SPLOST will give the citizens more options for funding transportation projects in their own local area. This will be offered as a local referendum, and, if passed, there will be a 1-cent addition to the current local sales tax. Each county will receive 80 percent of these funds for local transportation needs. Of the remaining 20 percent, at least 10 percent will go toward statewide mass transit needs. The T-SPLOST will give local governments the opportunity to handle transportation more effectively for their communities. The T-SPLOST will still contribute a small amount of the tax to statewide infrastructure needs, and help contribute to keeping our state moving.
· Legislation for Rural and Human services Transportation Service Coordination is an important reform that I hope to see come up in committee next week. This legislation will establish a state Rural and Human Services Transportation Coordinating Council, to be composed of all state agencies, with opportunity for input provided to the council by representatives of local government entities, including transit systems, having an interest in this subject matter. The council will be charged with exploring the manner in which such services are delivered, including at a minimum: an analysis of opportunities to share in federal transportation funding, facilities, and vehicles. The council will also be required to make an annual report to the governor and General Assembly that will include recommendations on how to improve such rural and human service transportation delivery.
This session is a golden opportunity to do something really positive for the state in regards to transportation, and we cannot afford to let it pass us by. Serving on the joint study committee on transportation has truly been rewarding for me. The committee members put in long tedious hours or work and I commend them for their efforts. I am very pleased to see the fruit of their hard work in this legislation. As former chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, I can truly say that these reforms will be good for the state of Georgia and its citizens.

Williams is Senate majority leader and represents the 19th Senate District which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties.  He can be reached at (404) 656-0089 or by email at
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