Political Notes — DOT board approves partial funding for I-285/Ga. 400 project

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The State Transportation Board gave a major push Thursday for a large chunk of the funds needed to pay for improving the I-285/Georgia 400 interchange.

Board members – who were meeting in Bainbridge – voted to approve the sale of $130 million in previously authorized bonds and to expend $81.5 million in accrued state motor fuel funds on the upgrades to one of the state’s most heavily traveled intersections.

That would provide a little less than half the estimated $450 million that will be needed to complete the ambitious infrastructure project.

The board’s action, however, enables the state to keep the project moving along until Congress can reauthorize the federal transportation bill and provide more federal dollars to the state (which is not a sure thing in today’s political environment).

DOT officials announced several months ago they will try to build the new interchange through a public-private partnership, as they are doing for the addition of toll lanes along Interstates 75 and 575 in Cobb and Cherokee Counties (the Northwest Corridor project).

Isakson keeps pressing on port funding

In congressional hearings this week, Sen. Johnny Isakson continued to press Sylvia Burwell, the Obama administration’s top budget official, on why the president won’t give Georgia $400 million to dredge the Savannah River.

Burwell, the current head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be the next secretary of health and human services, the agency responsible for implementing the Affordable Care Act.

Rather than question Burwell about Obamacare, Isakson has concentrated on the issue of Savannah harbor funding, a topic over which she currently has purview but will leave behind if she is confirmed as health and human services chief.

In response to Isakson’s interrogation about Savannah River funding, Burwell noted that the authority to move the money to Georgia depends upon the House and Senate being able to pass the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA).

She expressed the hope that congressional approval will happen quickly so “we can get on our way with this important project.”

Dasan locates in Georgia

The Korean manufacturing firm Dasan Machineries said it will locate its first U.S. headquarters to Gwinnett County, a project on which the company plans to spend $30 million.

“We were drawn to Gwinnett County and the state of Georgia because of the pro-business environment, skilled workforce and existing infrastructure that is available in the region,” said Jin Noh, the Dasan USA president. “We were further excited to learn that Duluth is the center of Georgia’s Korean-American community.”

Dasan will manufacture components for the automotive and defense industries at its Duluth-based facility.

Honors and awards

Sam Wellborn, the longest-serving member of the State Transportation Board, has been given the Garden Club of Georgia’s (GCG) certificate of merit for his work in beautifying Georgia and his hometown of Columbus.

“I have had the pleasure of working with them on many issues over the years, especially those related to the department’s work on roadside beautification,” said Wellborn, a retired banker who has been a board member since 1992.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Dasan , I-285/Ga. 400 interchange , Johnny Isakson , Sam Wellborn , Savannah harbor , State Transportation Board