Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Deal appoints former aide to important GDOT post

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 2:14 PM

Gov. Nathan Deal on Friday tapped Toby Carr, his transportation adviser and director of his transition committee, to become the all-important director of planning at the Georgia Department of Transportation.

If approved by the state House and Senate Transportation Committees, the Decatur resident - who, unlike his predecessor Todd Long, appears to have no formal training in transportation issues - will play a key role in deciding how $2 billion in gas tax revenues would be allocated on Georgia road projects.

Carr previously acted as Deal's liaison to the Georgia House of Representatives and as an aide to Georgia House Majority Whip Jan jones under the Gold Dome. In addition, Carr was the former executive director of the Georgia Republican Party and a political consultant. According to Carr's Linkedin profile, he also worked in sales at a flooring company and owned a construction management and consulting firm "with a primary focus on residential and light commercial flooring." He graduated from the University of Georgia in 2001 with a degree in finance and agricultural engineering.

Ariel Hart rightly notes that Carr's appointment might set up the "first real test of a new law that reformed transportation governance in 2009":

The law passed in 2009 shifted some power over transportation money from the DOT board to the governor. It did that by creating the director of planning, making that person report to the governor and giving him or her the first hand in creating state project lists. [...]

Before the 2009 law, there were bitter fights over the years between the DOT board and governors over transportation planning. But since then, the governor's planning director and the DOT board have worked together smoothly, aided partly by Long's experience as an engineer and his background at the DOT.

The best hope for the law was that it would engage governors more closely in transportation planning, spurring better cooperation with the DOT board and less conflict. On the other hand, the law could do the opposite, setting up a structure for conflict by giving one politician a lot of control over a large pot of project money, but not total control.

If the governor is to be closely involved, Carr apparently has the relationship with Deal to fulfill that role.

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