Chao Tells Georgia Leaders Rural Areas Key Focus of New Transportation and Infrastructure Funding

Cindy Morley

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

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More than 2,000 Georgia business leaders, state and federal officials, and policy advocates broke into applause Tuesday at the Georgia Chamber’s annual Congressional Luncheon in Macon when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao announced that Georgia will receive more than $189 million in transportation grants to expand infrastructure. She brought another round of cheers when she added that the main focus of the grant money will go to expanding infrastructure through rural Georgia.

“Rural communities need a fair chance to compete and not be discriminated against when federal funding is being given out,” Chao said, adding that over 70 percent of the FY18 federal transportation grants went to rural areas across the country.

“We are paying attention to rural America,” she added.

Chao added that Georgia will also be receiving another $24 million as part of the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants program. Fiscal Year 2019 BUILD Transportation grants are for investments in surface transportation infrastructure and will be awarded on a competitive basis to projects that will have a significant local or regional impact. BUILD funding can support roads, bridges, transit, rail, ports or intermodal transportation.

“Innovation in transportation is still driving hope and our future across this country,” Chao told the crowd.

She also explained how lessons learned from the I-85 bridge repair several years ago has helped streamline projects across the country. The country watched as the bridge was rebuilt in 43 days, under budget, and nearly 30 days ahead of schedule, Chao added. According to U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), Chao was a driving force in “immediately getting the funding to repair the bridge. She was truly spectacular. She knows how to get the job done.”

Chao also spoke on the importance of the Savannah Harbor expansion project on the state’s economy.

Perdue, in his opening remarks, thanked everyone in attendance for their role in Georgia’s being named the top state in the country to do business for six straight years.

And that did not happen by accident,” said Perdue.

Other members of the Georgia delegation at the luncheon were: Congressman Sanford Bishop, Congressman Rick Allen, Congressman Buddy Carter, Congressman Drew Ferguson and Congressman Austin Scott.