Posted: Wednesday, March 13th 2013 at 3:16pm
GDOT head: We are going to be more business-like
By Marc Eggers Staff
OAKWOOD – The Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation stood before nearly 200 business and community leaders and said, “I want you to know we have a very business-friendly board now; most of them come from the business sector. So it's giving us an opportunity to look at things very much differently.”
Commissioner Keith Golden was one of the speakers at the Annual Transportation Forum hosted by the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce on the Gainesville Campus of the University of North Georgia.
Referring back to last year's resounding defeat of the Transportation Investment Act, Golden said, ”We heard loud and clear from this region that they don't trust government and they don't trust the Department of Transportation.”
“Something near and dear to my heart right now is gaining the public trust back,” Golden said. “As an agency we are taking that very seriously.”
“When we talk about the public trust and accountability, I don't think very many people realize that the Georgia Department of Transportation is rated number one or number two in on time, and on budget, delivery of their construction projects. We want people to know that every day.”
But Golden cautioned that despite their efforts to improve upon what they do and how they do it, their future was very uncertain.
“We've been down-sizing drastically,” Golden offered, explaining that his department has gone from 9110 employees to a current level of almost 4300 employees. “So we're having to be creative. We're having to work with local governments.”
“But,” Golden said, “we want you to know that we are going to be more business-like.”
Golden explained that the unknown fate of the federal budget as the “continuing resolution” nears its March 27 deadline makes it difficult for his agency to plan their strategies.
“If they (the federal government) don't do a continuing resolution...we'll pretty much shut our construction activities down for the remainder of the year.”
“When you're a state that's totally dependent on federal transportation dollars, that's a big hit to your program.”
“We have some challenges before us and we're going to have to work with the business community and the elected officials,” Golden added.
D.O.T. District One Engineer Bayne Smith spoke after Golden, updating the audience on DOT construction projects currently underway.
Nicole Spivey, Senior Transportation Planner with the Gainesville-Hall County Metropolitan Planning Organization, followed Smith and spoke about road projects that have completed the design phase of work but now await funding for the right-of-way acquisition and construction phases of their life cycle, funding estimated at nearly $284 million.
“As of right now,” Spivey explained, “no money has been allocated to those particular projects.”
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