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How transportation funding works
Hill Jack
State Sen. Jack Hill

The interaction between local governments and state transportation agencies, primarily the Georgia Department of Transportation, is the pathway for the completion of important local transportation projects each year. The state provides local governments with a number of different tools to assist in the completion and funding of local transportation projects across Georgia.

Here are four of these tools.

Statewide Transportation Improvement Plan

In order to receive federal transportation project funds, GDOT develops the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). The STIP lists all highway, bridge, bicycle, pedestrian, safety, and public transportation (transit) projects proposed for funding under Title 23 (highways) and Title 49 (transit) of the U.S. Code.

The program provides the public an opportunity to review and comment on the State’s transportation priorities over the next four fiscal years. The STIP also lists federally-funded transportation projects that are located outside Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) boundaries, with each MPO developing its own Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).

Rural local governments work directly with GDOT in formal annual meetings to identify projects and encourage input from stakeholders and the general public.

Projects listed in the STIP outline all costs. For highway projects, these costs include preliminary engineering, right-of-way land acquisition, construction, and utilities; capital and operating costs are shown for transit projects.

Projects on the STIP are organized by county and include a description of the project and the fiscal year these are programmed in. Projects that extend across multiple counties are viewable under each county.

Local Maintenance Improvement Grants

The Local Maintenance Improvement Grant Program, often referred to as LMIG, was formerly called the Local Assistance Road Program and State Aid. The program was renamed LMIG under Senate Bill 200 during the 2009 Legislative Session. When LMIG was created, GDOT began taking into consideration paved and unpaved lane miles, vehicle miles traveled, as well as the use of other formula metrics including population, employment, and local funding matches available.

The LMIG formula is set annually by the GDOT director of planning, with program funds being allocated each fiscal year. No less than 10 percent but not more than 20 percent of the revenues from state motor fuel taxes can be received for LMIG in the preceding fiscal year.

The LMIG formula requires that each region’s local government provide a 30 percent match unless the region passes a local referendum known as a Transportation Investment Act (TIA) — which means that the region’s local governments only have to provide a 10 percent match.

In order to qualify for the formula amount each year, a project list from each jurisdiction is required that details projects that comprise the formula amount plus the required match.

Since LMIG creation, GDOT has funded approximately $100-$125 million per year under the new rules established in LMIG. In fiscal year 2014, GDOT was appropriated $122.47 million for the grant program to divide between local governments.

Currently, three regional development commissions have passed a TIA and four counties in the 4th District have that extra funding.

Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank

The Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) was established by HB 1019 in April 2009 in order to provide financial assistance for transportation projects that improve mobility, sustain development, and enhance communities throughout the state. The GTIB program was modeled after programs used in 32 other states, and provides grants and low-interest loans to local governments and community improvement districts (CIDs) for transportation infrastructure projects.

Since the program’s inception in 2010, GTIB has received $57.05 million in funding and has awarded $55.02 million to projects throughout Georgia. Over $15 million has been awarded for loans, with the remaining $39.89 million for grants.

Through FY14, GTIB funds have leveraged approximately $200 million in total project value. Based on GTIB data, every $1 of GTIB state funded investment generates $3.63 of additional funding for transportation projects from local governments and CIDs.

During FY14, GTIB received 58 applications requesting $80.7 million in funding. After reviewing each application, GTIB awarded $21.85 million for 16 grants and $11.33 million for 6 loans, for a total of $33.18 million. These selected projects represent over $100 million in total project value.

The FY16 budget included $7.6 million that was added for debt service to fully fund the infrastructure bank.

Transportation Investment Act

The Transportation Investment Act (TIA) referendum was passed by Georgia voters in the regions of Central Savannah River Area, Heart of Georgia-Altamaha, and River Valley in 2012. These three regions impose an additional 1 percent regional sales tax over a 10-year period to fund transportation improvements.

GDOT is responsible for the management of the budget, schedule, execution and delivery of all projects, and collaborates with local and state agencies to manage the delivery of TIA projects. Collection of TIA funds began on Jan. 1, 2013, and were first distributed in the spring of 2013. To date, the TIA regions have raised approximately $316.96 million to fund 871 projects.

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