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State earns ‘C’ for infrastructure

Dams, transit, stormwater get lowest grades

POSTED: January 15, 2014 12:00 a.m.

Daniel Agramonte of the American Society of Civil Engineers speaks at a news conference at the state Capitol. The group gave Georgia a C-plus grade in the report.

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ATLANTA — State civil engineers said Monday that while Georgia has “bright spots” in its infrastructure, it also has areas of serious concern, particularly dams and transit and stormwater systems.

“These challenges must be met,” said Daniel Agramonte of the Georgia Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers. “Georgia must eliminate the backlog of deficiencies, substandard roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure systems.

“This will keep us from inhibiting commerce and keep us from stifling economic growth.”

The organization issued its “2014 Report Card for Georgia’s Infrastructure” at the state Capitol on the state legislature’s opening day. Infrastructure is considered to be public services, systems or institutions that serve communities.

The report, which can be found at, gave Georgia infrastructure an overall C grade. Aviation had the highest grade, B-plus, and dams, transit and stormwater systems were graded at D-plus or below.

Also faring not so strongly were roads and bridges, with each getting a C-minus.

In compiling the grades, a team of volunteer civil engineers assessed hundreds of public records over the past year.

In a nutshell, according to the group, Georgia’s infrastructure has failed to improve over the past five years.

The report notes Georgia ranks 49th in the nation in per capita transportation spending and is among the lowest in the country in transit spending per resident.

Other key points:

The state’s Safe Dams Program has faced more than a 50 percent cut in staff since 2003, with each safety official now expected to oversee more than 1,000 dams, or five times the national average.
MARTA is the largest transit agency in the country to not receive state funding support for operations.
Georgia’s state motor fuel excise tax, which funds surface transportation projects. is one of the lowest in the United States.
“From the Atlanta airport to the Port of Savannah, Georgia is a major player in the global economy,” said Kat Gurd, president of the state engineers group.

“This report card shows that our connections to that economy are ailing, hurt too often by underfunding and increasing congestion. If we want to be the gateway to Southeastern commerce, we must deepen the Port of Savannah, increase our transportation funding and modernize our infrastructure.”

Agramonte, co-chairman of the Infrastructure Report Card Committee, said, “One only needs to look at the Kia manufacturing plant in West Point to see how infrastructure can make a huge impact.”

The car company moved to Georgia to take advantage of the Interstate 85 corridor, with the result being thousands of jobs and new businesses and auto suppliers moving to Georgia to be close to Kia, he said.

“Now is the time to invest to make sure they stay and help us attract more like them.”

State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, said after the presentation that he agreed with the report’s overall grade.

“We have not invested in infrastructure that is commensurate with the growth of the state,” he said.

Miller is vice chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee.

One area of the report that hits close to home — particularly as it relates to Lake Lanier and Hall County’s planned 850-acre Glades Reservoir in North Hall — is drinking water, which got a C-plus.

“Water quality continues to improve as new processes are implemented in response to stricter regulations and public expectations,” the report states.

“Capacity of water infrastructure has had a chance to ‘catch up’ as development slowed during the economic downturn.

“However, the corresponding reduction in water revenues has limited reinvestment in existing infrastructure, and formal asset management programs need to be adopted at all water utilities.”

The report cites the Governor’s Water Supply Program, founded in 2011. Its aim was to commit $300 million from various sources over four years for reservoir and water supply development.

Last year, Glades made the short list for up to $40 million from the program.

The Hall County application asked for slightly more than $14.5 million, but the final amount will be negotiated with the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority and officials with the Environmental Protection Division, GEFA spokesman Shane Hix has said.

Water “withdrawal rates will escalate with increased population and conversely will be partially mitigated by improved water conservation measures,” the engineers’ report states.



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