Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Georgia gubernatorial candidates on transportation

Voters who take the time to get as much information as possible on candidates and their positions on issues of importance to them typically have to do quite a bit of digging. In Georgia, truckers have some insight into how the two men who are vying to become governor stand on various transportation issues.

Included below is what Democratic candidate Roy Barnes and Republican nominee Nathan Deal have to say about addressing one of the worst gridlock problems in the nation.

Nathan Deal’s election website is critical of the current transportation system. He also shows interest in reducing some truck traffic routing through Atlanta.

“Georgia’s east to west connectivity is insufficient, which forces thousands of extra vehicles onto metro Atlanta roads. Alternative routes must be explored to remove more than 100,000 transfer trucks from metropolitan roadways each day and significantly relieve congestion and delays as a result.”

Roy Barnes says on his website that “the days of only big road projects are gone. Instead of simply pouring more concrete, we must implement a mass transit plan that addresses Metro Atlanta’s tremendous population growth and unique problems.

“MARTA is convenient for Atlantans who want to travel short distances within the city, but it is completely unusable for suburban and exurban commuters,” says Barnes. “An elevated light-rail system running over metro Atlanta’s interstates, rail lines, and existing rights-of-way would move commuters to outlying suburbs more efficiently, unclog our interstates, and reduce our reliance on foreign oil, all while putting Georgians back to work.”

When elected officials and candidates talk about putting more money into alternative forms of transportation, it is natural for people involved in the trucking industry to hold their breath out of concern what such action might mean for the roads they use on a daily basis. Barnes addresses that concern.

“Businesses will not settle at the end of potholes and narrow roads. There are two important economic engines in Georgia: real estate development and commercial business. These engines tend to reinforce each other, but both rely on transportation as an essential tool for success. To bring new economic opportunity to every corner of our state, and to make Georgia work, we need to improve and expand the statewide highway system.”

Improving roads isn’t a campaign pledge that too many people are going to take a candidate to task over. But you better believe voters, including truckers, will keep a watchful eye on the methods used by the next governor to get work done.

Deal, like Barnes, addresses expansion, but he focuses on the Port of Savannah. Officials in the state are hopeful of making upgrades at the nation’s fastest-growing container port in time for a major widening of the Panama Canal, due for completion in 2014.

“As the Port of Savannah is expanded to accept larger vessels, surface transit will be a fundamental ingredient in ensuring the full utilization of the port. Connectivity through roadways and rail, when financially justifiable, must be explored,” says Deal.

One more transportation topic covered by Barnes is a proposed constitutional amendment also on Nov. 2 ballot. The amendment is billed as a way to reduce long-term construction costs paid by the state.

If approved by voters, the Georgia DOT would be allowed to pay for projects as they are under construction instead of being required to paying the entire dollar amount of contracts at the outset.

“I believe this is an integral first step to resolving transportation shortfalls in our state over the long run,” Deal stated.