The Extra Mile Blog

Looking Ahead at 2020

Thursday, January 13, 2020
Carol Comer

Author: Carol Comer, Division Director of Intermodal, Georgia Department of Transportation

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As we begin 2020, it is appropriate to reflect not only on the past year and the past decade, but also on the promise of the future for Georgia and for the Georgia Department of Transportation. I believe that we are in a truly transformative time in transportation history.

Federal transportation funding reauthorization only occurs every five years or so. The current federal surface transportation bill—Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (or FAST) Act—expires at the end of September 2020 so Congress will work on a new funding bill this year. This also gives states the opportunity to work with their congressional delegations on shaping the bill. The good news is that Congress has already been working on proposals well ahead of the September deadline.

Transportation, only made possible through reliable, long-term funding sources, keeps people and goods moving in a safe and efficient manner. It provides very real economic and quality of life benefits. Federal funding currently represents about 42 percent of GDOT’s total budget.

Our transportation future will certainly be more connected than ever before. That connectivity happens in many forms with technology leading the way. For example, GDOT has been a national leader in deploying traffic signal technology that allows traffic signals to send signal information to vehicles equipped with special receivers. Going forward, GDOT will continue to deploy such technology to improve safety and mobility! Vehicle manufacturers will install the technology in cars very soon and Georgia will be well-positioned as an early adopter. In the meantime, we are working with transit providers and fleet owners to utilize this technology.

This convergence of technology and transportation is a constant theme here at GDOT, so I am very excited about the upcoming Transportation Tech Showcase that we will soon host in Atlanta. This hands-on event will educate elected officials and other transportation influencers about how Georgia DOT and industry pioneers are innovating right now with demonstrations of their most exciting and impactful technologies - including connected vehicle technology, safety, TMC operations, public service, data science and more. The showcase is sponsored by the ITS Georgia Chapter.

In 2019 I was proud to be a part of the Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics, chaired by General Assembly transportation committee chairmen Sen. Brandon Beach and Rep. Kevin Tanner. The commission was established by the Georgia Legislature to identify ways to move freight more efficiently and effectively through Georgia - and to help determine future priorities and necessary funding levels to make that happen. The commission was made up of transportation and logistics professionals and local and state elected officials. One thing stood out at all the meetings - freight and logistics have a major impact on Georgia’s economy. We at GDOT are excited to play a pivotal role in this process and look forward to continuing our work with the commission to ensure that Georgia remains the number one state in which to do business, the seventh consecutive year we have received that designation.

From developing streamlined processes that create efficiency and conserve taxpayer dollars to utilizing new innovative techniques and materials that ensure better quality projects and faster completion, I could not be prouder of the work of the GDOT staff. Nor the level of service that we deliver.

Whether its innovation or safety, sustainability or mobility Georgia’s transportation system is recognized among the best in the country. And you have our commitment to continue to make it better – year after year.

I wish you and your family a safe, happy and healthy 2020 and new decade! Please remember to always Drive Alert Arrive Alive in 2020!