Georgia Senate leaders offer peek at transportation overhaul

ATLANTA -- To unsnarl a backlog of road-construction projects across Georgia, Senate leaders announced this morning legislation to create a new agency for building transportation projects, including passenger rail lines.

The agency, the State Transportation Authority, would contract with private companies for the actual construction and with the existing Department of Transportation for maintenance. It would take construction authority away from the department.

One reason for creating the new agency is to get companies to build toll roads as a quicker, less expensive way for the state to get additional highways, said Senate President Pro Tem Tommie Williams, R-Lyons. He introduced legislation five years ago to allow the Transportation Department to accept toll-road proposals from companies, but none have been built.

Williams said most legislators have been frustrated be the time it takes for a road project to be completed.

"I've waited for projects 13 years, and I'm in leadership," he said.

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