The House Transportation Committee has confirmed the governor’s pick for director of planning at the state Department of Transportation.
Todd Long, a longtime engineer and manager at the DOT and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, won confirmation in a unanimous voice vote. Last week, a House subcommittee also recommended him unanimously.
Long made some of the same comments Wednesday that he made last week, assuring the committee that while the director of planning has a close relationship with the governor, he would weigh the governor’s priorities alongside others, and that he was dedicated to serving all of Georgia’s transportation needs, not just urban, suburban or rural.
He also addressed some of the difficulties with the bill that created his position this year, SB 200. It gave the bulk of the power to pick projects to the governor’s appointee, but the DOT board gets to approve the list, and DOT implements the projects.
Long said he is working closely with Commissioner Vance Smith and the DOT board already, to make sure they’re all on the same page throughout the process.
“If you don’t do that this job would not work,” Long said.
He also threw cold water on the notion that he’ll be able to solve congestion and throw new roads all over the state, especially in metro Atlanta. “Our goal cannot be to widen every road wide enough that your trip no matter where it is is going to be free flow 100 percent of the time,” he said. “There’s just not enough money to do that…You’ve got to provide options.” That could be anything from GRTA express buses to congestion-priced HOV toll lanes, he said.
The consulting firm McKinsey and Co. is being hired by GRTA to work with Long on how to pick projects.