A one-time, $75 million set-aside for transit projects in this year’s state legislative budget is one step closer to being put to use.
The State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) met on Tuesday to approve the sale of the $75 million bond package, which will be repaid with money from the general fund. It now falls to the Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission to issue the public debt.
A top priority of state lawmakers during the 2015 legislative session was to raise additional revenue to fund a mounting backlog of transportation projects in Georgia.
Transit advocates saw the session as their opportunity to secure long-term funding to maintain and expand mass transportation options for the first time in state history. However, $1-billion-per-year transportation funding bill that ultimately passed (HB 170) was geared toward paying for road and bridge projects.
A one-time provision of $75 million in bond money for transit was approved as part of a compromise on the final version of HB 170.
There are 128 transit providers in Georgia. The money will be awarded to the transit providers on a project-by-project basis using criteria that is still to be determined. All providers are eligible.
“This is an incremental step, but it’s an important step.” said Gov. Nathan Deal, who is chairman of SRTA.
The framework for doling out the money will be outlined on June 24 at the next State Road and Tollway Authority meeting, said Chris Tomlinson, executive director for SRTA.
Officials will gather comments from the transit community about the proposed process before issuing a call for projects in October. The funds will be awarded sometime in the spring of 2016.