Road money rules may spark a fight - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Road money rules may spark a fight

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January 11, 2005

Atlanta-- Without good roads and highways, it's hard for any area to grow and attract business and industry. A bill before the Senate would take road money away from most areas of South Georgia.

Bringing in more business and industry into South Georgia is a top priority because we need more jobs. New roads and highways are a necessity for that kind of growth. But Senate Bill 4 is putting the dollars we use for that in danger.

The interstates in Atlanta are always busy. The roar of cars, trucks and tractor trailers is constant inside city limits and stretches all the way to the suburbs. That's why suburban-Atlanta senators are pushing for a bill that would change the way Federal Transportation dollars are distributed.

"There's a lot of congestion, and we need to do something that fairly does that," said CarrolltonSenator Mitch Seabaugh.

Right now, that money is split evenly among all 13 Congressional districts. But under Senate Bill 4, the formula for giving out the money would change. Areas with interstates would get more. "If you have a major project on an Interstate system in your Congressional district, that will sap a majority, if not all the funding you will get to build roads," Seabaugh said.

That may be so, but South Georgia senators say cutting other districts dollars for roads will hurt economic growth. "They cannot ignore South Georgia, because Metro Atlanta can only grow so far," said Albany Senator Michael Meyer von Bremen.

If the bill passes during this session, it wouldn't take long for areas like Albany and Americus to feel the crunch. Those changes would begin in July. "It's something we need to fight. We need to take a strong stand," said Americus Senator George Hooks. "We need to make sure we're getting all the money."

So the decision will likely come down to what lawmakers decide is more important. If that bill passes this year, it won't affect any South Georgia roads immediately. The way Atlanta lawmakers put it, the bill protects areas with interstates so there's money left for other roadwork in their districts.

If areas with interstates would get money, The congressional districts that include more Cordele, Tifton, Valdosta, all areas along Interstate 75 would be in line for more of that money. But it's important to remember is that this bill was not written with any of those areas in mind.

Senate Bill 4 will now go to committee for debate and a vote before the full Senate can consider it.

posted at 6:25PM by dave.miller@walb.com

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