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Cagle says state needs $50 billion to build 4,000 miles of new roads
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle was the guest speaker at the Kiwanis Club of Gainesville meeting at the Gainesville Civic Center on Tuesday. Cagle spoke about transportation needs and initiatives for the state, among other topics. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle says Georgia needs 4,000 miles of new roads at a cost of $50 billion within 15 years.

"Congestion is not only costing people time, it’s costing money and it’s costing us jobs," Cagle said, adding that there have been Fortune 500 companies who have chosen not to come to Georgia because of traffic congestion.

"That’s real and we need a real solution," said the Chestnut Mountain Republican in remarks to a combined meeting of the Gainesville Kiwanis and Lions clubs at the Gainesville Civic Center.

He called for a revamp of the Georgia Department of Transportation and implementation of a design-build program, where the same company is responsible for both functions.

"Through innovation and through efficiencies of scale within our Department of Transportation, I’m convinced we can do more with less," Cagle said.

In a recent speech in Gainesville, State Transportation Board member Steve Farrow of Dalton predicted that the DOT will face a shortfall of $1.2 billion this year to pay for cost overruns in the past three budget years.

Cagle is predicting that current reorganization efforts at the DOT will result in a more efficient operation in future years.

The lieutenant governor also touched briefly on the ongoing drought and its impact on the region.

"In an average year, we receive about 50 inches of rainfall," Cagle said. "That 50 inches of rain equates to 50 trillion gallons of water. We only use 1.2 trillion."

He said the state’s new water management plan will allow communities to identify their water needs and decide how they can be met.

Cagle said with 50 percent of the metro area depending on Lake Lanier, it must be protected.

"The reason we’re in this crisis is a lack of rainfall, but more importantly, it is the mismanagement of the corps of engineers relative to this lake," he said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers manages the river-and-dam system that includes Lake Lanier.

Cagle also talked about the need for educational reform in the state. He spoke of his programs for charter schools and charter systems.

"What I’ve tried to do is have a paradigm shift that takes us to the place where teachers and school systems have the flexibility to design an educational curriculum around the needs of each individual student," Cagle said, adding that charter systems free parents and teachers of the bureaucracy that has stymied education in Georgia.

Cagle made no mention of his exploratory campaign for governor.

He has said that he will formally announce his intentions after the 2009 session of the General Assembly.

State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine is the only other Republican seeking the state’s top office in 2010.

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