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Friday, January 9, 2009

Report: Ga. DOT Obamabucks wishlist heavy on roads

Jeez, guys, didn't you read that he was taking a train to Washington, D.C.?

The Georgia Public Interest Research Group has just released its analysis of the state Department of Transportation's wishlist for President-elect Barack Obama's proposed stimulus funds. And the group says the state agency's list favors asphalt over rails.

The Georgia Department of Transportation's wish list requests:

  • Georgia would spend only 34.3 percent of funds on public transit/intercity rail projects.

  • The state DOT has allocated 69 percent of the two billion dollar highway project funds to the maintenance needs of the state's infrastructure. This is a higher portion than most other states but would still leave many bridges and roads in a state of disrepair while building new highways.

  • GDOT also lists three bike/pedestrian projects in Fulton County: West End Rail Multi-use Trail ($2.2 million), Fourteenth Street ($7.6 million), and Downtown Atlanta Pedestrian ($6.7 million).

There are some worrisome aspects to these high-dollar and ambitious wishlists, too.

Says GPIRG:

Despite increasing transit ridership nationwide, on average, the states would spend only seventeen percent of funds on public transit or intercity rail projects. Seven of the sixteen states would allocate 1 percent or less to transit or intercity rail, including four that would allocate nothing at all.

In spite of hundreds of billions of dollars in backlogged maintenance and repair for crumbling infrastructure, more than half of transportation funds would flow to highway projects to build new or wider highways. A third of states would spend less than a quarter of road funds to protect and restore existing bridges and roads.

Most states have not disclosed their transportation wish lists for public scrutiny, leaving most citizens in the dark about how their tax dollars might be spent.

GPIRG say Congress, the Obama Administration and the Georgia DOT should  make a fair and equitable investment in public transit and be open about the distribution of funds, which, nationwide, may total more than $1 trillion. Those are taxpayer funds. Remember that.

You can download PDFs of the report. Here's a breakdown of the states' wishlists. Here's a copy of GPIRG's report.

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