In a presentation provided on May 22, the Atlanta Regional Commission updated local governments in the region that results from the TIP project solicitation would first focus on FY 2021 then revisit other fiscal years later this year. The project solicitation collected applications for federal transportation dollars in fall 2019, but now must adapt its results based on uncertainty in the availability of funding.
A total of 180 applications requesting a combined $564 million dollars were submitted to ARC, including eleven projects submitted by Henry County and one each by the cities of Locust Grove and Stockbridge. 117 applications requested funds in FY 2020 / FY 2021.
The largest pool of funds, the Surface Transportation Block Grant or STBG, has an estimated $22.8 million available in FY 2021. In contrast, the applicants requested $113 million. These funds can be used for a wide range of projects including road widening projects and road maintenance.
Smaller dollar amounts are available for transportation alternatives and congestion mitigation funding. Major road widening projects are not eligible for these funds.
Funding Uncertainty in Fuel Tax Collections
For each gallon of gasoline sold in Georgia, 27.9 cents is collected in state fuel tax and 18.3 cents in federal fuel tax. These funds are the primary source of revenue for federal and state transportation funding.
With fewer drivers on the roads, less is being collected in fuel tax revenues. Though exact impacts to funding are difficult to estimate at this time, a prolonged economic recession will create shortfalls in previous funding forecasts.
The ARC has postponed a decision on later years of the TIP solicitation (FY 2022–2025) until more information becomes available. This affects nearly all Henry County applications for funding, with the possible exceptions being study requests by Locust Grove and Stockbridge.
The local applications are headlined by state route 81 and Rock Quarry Road, two locations that received design funds in the 2015 solicitation followed by right of way funds in the 2017 solicitation. The requests for construction funding towards these projects represent two of the four largest requests, by dollar amount, in the metropolitan Atlanta region.
Georgia DOT approved the concept report for widening state route 81 in February 2020. Right of way acquisition for the projects is expected to begin by the end of calendar year 2020.