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Georgia

Number of Regional Commissions serving rural areas: 11 Total annual funding: $50,000 – $125,000 (80% federal, 20% local match) Date established rural transportation program: 2000Georgia’s 11 regional commissions serving rural counties have supported Georgia DOT’s statewide planning efforts since 2000.  Their work includes conducting public outreach to support statewide long-range plans, improvement programs, and other plans.  The regional commissions assist GDOT with mapping public road center lines and bridges.  They assist local governments on transportation matters, including creating a Local Area Transportation Committee for counties wishing to coordinate their transportation, land use, and economic development activities.[1]  The regional commissions also perform an important coordinating role, with some serving on MPO committees for the urbanized areas that exist within their regions and others that staff an MPO.

As requested by their member local governments, the regional commissions complete single-county or multi-county multimodal transportation plans, as well as transit development plans to address county-level transit demand and goals.  This work is supported through FTA Section 5304 funding of about $30,000 per region.  Mobility management activities in many of the regions build partnerships among transportation providers and other organizations to identify opportunities to coordinate existing service.  Some regional commissions also provide transit service.[2]

Map of Georgia showing regional commission boundaries
Click to enlarge (Courtesy Georgia Association of Regional Commissions)

Bicycle and pedestrian planning and assistance with the Transportation Alternatives program also enhance the local governments’ ability to plan for non-motorized transportation.  Many of the regions are involved in Safe Routes to School assistance to communities, and they assist with scenic byways efforts.[3]

Following the passage of the Transportation Improvement Act of 2010, each of the state’s regional commissions also formed regional transportation roundtables, with the purpose of developing potential project lists for a regional sales tax that would have been used to fund transportation projects within the region.  Voters had the opportunity to consider adopting the tax in a ballot initiative contained on the primary election ballots in 2012, and the tax was approved in three fairly rural regions, out of the state’s total of 12 regional commissions.  The Georgia legislature passed the Transportation Funding Act of 2015, which changed the sales tax initiative.  In the 2010 law, the special purpose sales tax was implemented only at the regional level and with a 10-year sunset period, but in the 2015 statute, counties can opt for residents to vote on a referendum for their own five-year, single-county sales tax for transportation.[4]  Regions that adopted the sales tax in 2012 have seen benefits from having a new regional revenue source, since their localities have been able to purchase new equipment, maintain roads, and use sales tax revenue as local match for transit and other federally funded projects.[5]

For more information on Georgia’s regional commissions, visit garc.ga.gov.

[1] Three Rivers Regional Commission (nd). Transportation Projects, http://www.threeriversrc.org/transportation-projects.php

[2] Three Rivers Regional Commission

[3] Northeast Georgia Regional Commission (nd). Transportation Planning, http://www.negrc.org/resource-1.php?page_ID=1294242559

[4] Andria Simmons (2015). “New transportation bill won’t put you in the fast lane,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution, April 6, 2015, http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional-govt-politics/new-transportation-bill-wont-put-you-in-the-fast-l/nkmjp/

[5] Georgia DOT (2016). Local communities get customized transportation boost from TIA discretionary funds, http://www.ga-tia.com/Content/pdf/06.15.16%20-%20TIA%20Discretionary%20Funds.pdf

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