GA’s Transportation Financing Arm
The $6 million Ashford Dunwoody Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI) project, which opened in 2012, was partially funded with a grant from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB).
With a solid understanding of transportation infrastructure development, SRTA is positioned to serve as the financing arm for state and local transportation across the state.
SRTA has the authority to finance any type of transportation improvement using traditional methods of financing such as bonds, loans, notes and equity partnerships. SRTA has issued Grant Anticipation Revenue Vehicle (GARVEE) bonds, underwritten by the state’s future federal transportation revenues, for non-toll projects on behalf of the Georgia Department of Transportation. As an issuer of tax-exempt bonds, SRTA is responsible for ensuring that all applicable U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules and federal law requirements are met. SRTA and the Georgia Department of Transportation have consistently demonstrated their ability to meet these requirements.
SRTA also administers the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB), established by House Bill 1019 in April 2008. The GTIB is a revolving infrastructure investment fund, much like a bank, that provides loans with attractive terms to state, regional and local government entities to fund much needed local transportation projects. GTIB grants are also awarded for selected transportation improvement projects on a competitive basis throughout the state of Georgia.
Since its inception, the GTIB program has provided more than $50 million in funding to jumpstart or complete transportation projects with a total value of more than $200 million.
User-fee financed facilities have become an important means for helping to bridge the gap in transportation funding throughout the United States. As such, tolling has become part of the State’s approach to strategic transportation planning. Tolling is a means to pay for and maintain brand new highways and bridges which under normal circumstances a state cannot afford to build.
A Toll is not a tax
It is a user fee. A toll road is funded by those choosing to pay for the use of the facility, whereas taxes are not optional and are charged to everyone. It is true that customers of toll facilities also pay taxes, but these levies are used to fund non-toll roads. This is comparable to the fuel taxes paid by users in the United States of high-volume interstates paying for construction and maintenance of lesser-used non-interstate roads. Since toll roads are primarily self-financed and do not rely on taxes, the customer is not paying twice for the facility. In fact, without tolls, taxes would be higher.
Tolling can also be employed as a demand management tool to encourage people to travel at less congested times. The State has made a substantial commitment in state and federal funds over the next 20 years to support demand management mechanisms, particularly managed lanes that will employ targeted congestion-pricing strategies.