Georgia Department of Transportation
Department of Transportation (GDOT) plans, constructs, and maintains Georgia's network of highways and bridges, while providing
planning and financial support for other transportation systems ranging from airports to mass transit and bicycle trails.
An agency of the state government, GDOT is overseen by a state transportation board that includes representatives from each of Georgia's congressional districts.
Based in the state office complex in downtown Atlanta, GDOT also operates seven district offices, in Cartersville, Chamblee, Gainesville, Jesup, Tennille, Thomaston, and Tifton. The department had approximately 5,700 employees and a budget of $2.1 billion in 2008.
Long known primarily
for highway construction and maintenance, GDOT has broadened its agenda to include other forms of transportation, as well
as such transportation innovations as NaviGAtor, an "intelligent transportation system" developed to minimize congestion and
improve safety on urban expressways. The department also provides administrative support to the Georgia Tollway Authority,
the Georgia Rail Passenger Authority, and the Georgia Southwest Rail Excursion Authority.
Support for Georgia Roadways
As of 2007, Georgia's transportation system included 117,238 miles of public roads, including 84,559 miles of county roads,
18,095 miles of state highway, 14,584 miles of city streets, and 1,244 miles of interstate highways. To maintain those roadways, GDOT receives the proceeds from the state's motor vehicle fuel tax and state appropriations,
as well as funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation. GDOT operates five major construction and maintenance programs:
1) The Governor's Road Improvement Program (GRIP) supports a network of economic development highways that connect most of
Georgia's cities to the interstate highway system. The GRIP system will ultimately ensure that 98 percent of the state's population
is within twenty miles of a four-lane highway. As of 2007, there were nineteen GRIP highways and three truck-access routes
totaling 3,314 miles of roadway. Some well-known examples of GRIP projects are the Golden Isles Parkway, the Fall Line Freeway,
and the South Georgia Parkway.
Local Assistance Road Program helps local governments preserve their road systems by funding resurfacing activities. Each
year, every city and county in the state is invited to submit a priority list of projects to the GDOT, which reviews requests
and establishes priorities for resurfacing. In 2007 GDOT resurfaced 917 miles of roads under the program. Overall, there are
70,013 miles of city and county paved roads in Georgia.
3) The Surface Transportation Program (STP) is a block grant program that may be used for any roads not classified as local
or rural minor collector roads. Transit projects are also eligible for funding through this program. Ten percent of STP funds
is set aside to address such safety issues as rail-highway crossings, and an additional 10 percent is allocated to improve
4) The National Highway System supports a network of highways that link different modes of transportation, including ports,
airports, and public transportation. The goal of this program is to enhance economic vitality.
5) The Fast Forward program was implemented in 2004 as a way to accelerate critical transportation projects. The goals of
the program are to ease short-term congestion (through such projects as ramp metering expansion and signal timing and synchronization
upgrades) and long-term congestion (through such projects as high-occupancy vehicle lane expansion).
Beyond designing, building, and maintaining Georgia's bridges and highways, GDOT also maintains, as of 2007, 90 miles of high-occupancy
vehicle, or HOV, lanes and 94 park-and-ride lots to encourage carpooling in urban areas. For nonmotorized transportation,
the department maintains 3,000 miles of bicycle and pedestrian routes.
NaviGAtor and HERO
The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta provided the impetus for development of NaviGAtor,
a system of 1,044 highway-monitoring cameras, 101 changeable message signs, and a central traffic management system used to
manage 234 miles of expressways. Designed to improve the flow of traffic and boost safety for motorists, the system is a collaborative
effort of GDOT, the Federal Highway Administration, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), and the Atlanta Regional Commission. The system provides real-time highway speed and congestion information on the
Internet. It also operates a system of transportation information kiosks at such public areas as airports and rest stops.
the system is GDOT's network of highway emergency response operators (HERO). Driving large yellow trucks, these specially
trained personnel quickly deal with wrecks and disabled vehicle incidents to minimize their impact on traffic flow. When not
dealing with traffic emergencies, HERO units assist stranded motorists. As of 2007, there were about ninety HERO trucks, and
the average response time to incidents was eight minutes.
Georgia's transportation system also includes airports, public transit, railroads, and ports not directly operated by GDOT. In the state's urban areas, public transportation is provided by 14 transit systems,
the largest of which is the MARTA. Much smaller in scale are 100 transit systems operated in rural areas to serve their residents.
2007 the state had 473 private and public airports, including 105 commercial facilities that serve general aviation needs and scheduled air carriers. Airports in Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Brunswick, Columbus, Macon, Savannah, and Valdosta provide regularly scheduled service by commercial air carriers.
Georgia has more than 5,000 miles of railroad, predominantly operated by two large companies: CSX and Norfolk Southern. To
help maintain light-density railroad routes important to the state's rural areas, GDOT owns nearly 540 miles of rail lines
that are leased to commercial operators. Rail passenger service provided by AMTRAK, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation,
has stops in Atlanta, Gainesville, Jesup, Savannah, and Toccoa. A network of commuter rail services is being planned for the
metropolitan Atlanta area.
Ports in the state are located in Bainbridge, Brunswick, Columbus, and Savannah.
One of the busiest ports on the East Coast of the United States, Savannah handles approximately 80 percent of the ship-borne
cargo entering Georgia. Specializing in automobile importing, Brunswick handles nearly all of Georgia's remaining shipping
traffic. These port facilities are operated by the Georgia Ports Authority.
John D. Toon, Georgia Institute of Technology