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DOT boss tells Hall state needs more than roads, bridges
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The new Georgia Department of Transportation commissioner paid a visit to Hall County on Monday morning, her first since being named to the position in October.

Gena Abraham met with city and county officials, as well as members of the local legislative delegation, at Lanier Technical College in Oakwood.

Abraham, the first woman to hold the position in the state, succeeds Harold Linnenkohl, who retired this summer.

"I can tell you that we’ve got some challenges ahead of us," Abraham told the group gathered in one of the school’s lecture halls.

Mike Evans, DOT board chairman, said he has had his share of concerns about "not the people at DOT, but the process, and the process is broken."

However, Evans continued, "I believe Gena Abraham is the right person to dig into it, find out the truth, expose the truth and turn the department around."

Abraham said there are three main things she wants the organization to start looking at "very quickly:" A statewide transportation plan, public and private partnerships and working to deliver projects better and more efficiently.

While the DOT is a roads and bridges organization, Abraham said in order to move forward with a plan, different types of transportation need to be factored in as well.

"Does that mean it’s going to be the end all, be all?" Abraham said. "No, it doesn’t. But at least it’s a good communication effort to start working toward a consolidated transportation plan that includes more than roads and bridges."

Abraham said a second challenge will be that the delegation will have to make significant policy decisions in order to move forward with public and private initiatives.

Questions to be considered include: Will there be a managed lane system in the state? How will tolling be handled?

Abraham said another "significant undertaking" in the organization will be working with committees on how to deliver projects better and to get cars moving more quickly across the roadways.

"We have a lot of challenges in front of us," she said. "We have significant funding shortfalls."

However, Abraham said there will be great opportunities to make a difference for all Georgia citizens.

"I’m excited about the opportunity," she said. "I’m excited about the challenge. I’m up for the task."

After Abraham spoke, Evans presented Reps. Carl Rogers and James Mills with a check for $937,126 from the Local Assistance Road Program.

The money will help maintain paved roads in the area. Evans said he expects to have another $500,000 to give toward resurfacing area roads.