U.S. House panel backs transportation bill with $138 million in Georgia projects

A passenger gets off of a MARTA bus at a stop near Stonecrest Mall. A Stonecrest transit hub is among the projects included in a bill that received committee approval in the U.S. House. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION
A passenger gets off of a MARTA bus at a stop near Stonecrest Mall. A Stonecrest transit hub is among the projects included in a bill that received committee approval in the U.S. House. CHRISTINA MATACOTTA FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Christina Matacotta

Credit: Christina Matacotta

WASHINGTON — Georgia projects totaling $138 million in spending are contained within a transportation and infrastructure package making its way through the U.S. House.

The 39 projects include road improvements, transit expansion, and new construction of trails and greenways. But certain parts of the state were left out, a byproduct of most Republican lawmakers boycotting the practice of requesting money for projects in their districts that are known as earmarks.

Republican members of Georgia’s congressional delegation did not respond to requests for comment about the transporatation bill, but some have expressed concerns about government spending.

“We must end wasteful Washington spending,” U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, said on Twitter.

All six of Georgia’s Democratic representatives submitted proposals that ended up in the bill, which the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved early Thursday. But only two of eight Republicans did: U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter of Pooler and Barry Loudermilk of Cassville.

As a result, the projects are contained within metro Atlanta, southwest Georgia and Savannah, where the requesting lawmakers reside. North Georgia isn’t represented on the list at all.

Carter only received funding for a single project, but it was the largest line item on the Georgia list: $20 million for improvements along DeRenne Avenue in Savannah. The city and the Georgia Department of Transportation are working together on the project, which has a total budget of $80.9 million.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, had the largest number of projects included at 10, worth a total of $20 million. He said in a statement this week that road and intersection improvements on the list, as well as another line item for the purchase of public transit vehicles, will help the communities in his district grow.

“Once completed, I firmly believe that these projects will help to encourage new economic development for the areas and enhance the overall transportation and infrastructure efficiency throughout middle and southwest Georgia,” Bishop said.

The larger package, which clocks in at $547 billion, creates projects that would be funded over the next five years with a focus on roads, bridges, transit and rail. Several trails and pathways are among the Georgia projects in line for money, including the Atlanta Beltline, Big Creek Greenway and Peachtree Creek Greenway.

The bill won approval early Thursday after a 19-hour committee review, known as a markup. Democrats say the bill can be used as a vehicle to advance some of the infrastructure priorities of President Joe Biden, who has thus far been unable to reach a bipartisan deal with GOP lawmakers.

The bill is now ready for a vote on the House floor, which House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said will happen the week of June 28. Members of the Senate may also want to tweak the list and add their own projects once the bill lands in that chamber.

Georgia U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, and Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, are all members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and voted in favor of moving the legislation forward. They each also have a handful of projects included on the list.

Georgia project list in H.R. 3684 (the INVEST in America Act)

Total number of projects: 39

Total amount: $138 million

Largest line item: DeRenne Avenue improvements in Savannah, $20 million requested by U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter

Lawmakers who made requests, number of projects funded and and aggregate amount:

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, 10, $20 million

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux, D-Suwanee, 5, $19.8 million

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, 1, $20 million

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, 5, $19.8 million

U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, 3, $7.9 million

U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, 3, $16.9 million

U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, 6, $18.8 million

U.S. Rep. Nikema Williams, D-Atlanta, 6, $14.9 million

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