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Senator to lead committee
Focus on transportation issues
2 Gooch mug

State Sen. Steve Gooch received several key committee assignments, including chairman of the State Transportation Committee, when the 152nd Georgia General Assembly convened last week in Atlanta.

Gooch, a Republican from Dahlonega and former state Department of Transportation board member, said the assignment will serve the 51st District well.

Gooch's district includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Pickens, and Union counties, as well as portions of Forsyth and White counties.

"A strong transportation infrastructure is needed in order to encourage economic development investment and expansion in Georgia," said Gooch, who previously served as secretary of the committee.

"I have been involved in many discussions about the transportation needs of Georgia, and I am looking forward to continuing those discussions with my Senate colleagues."

The committee's jurisdiction includes legislation relating to highway safety and regulation of intrastate common carriers, including railroads, buses, trucks, vessels, pipelines and civil aviation.

Also included are inland waterways and any other means of transportation.

With the failure of last year's 1-cent sales tax referendum to fund regional transportation projects, Gooch said 2013 will be the year to regroup and look for new ways to address state needs with limited funds.

"We're looking at some procedural laws for DOT that deal with design-build projects," he said. "Instead of designing a project and it taking three or four years to put them out for bids and then issue the bid, you'll design the project and issue the bid simultaneously ... and start building the road immediately.

"You'll get them done quicker and cheaper and it would be a lot more fluid process. We're going to be addressing that one early on in the part of the session."

In addition to his chairmanship duties, Gooch also will serve as vice chair of the Economic Development Committee, an ex-officio member of the Senate Rules Committee and a member of the Appropriations and Natural Resources committees.

The assignments are for two years.

"It's going to be a busy year. We've got a lot of good committee assignments, but it's going to take a lot of time and effort, but I'm up for the challenge," Gooch said. "I'm looking forward to doing what we can to make our district stronger."