Representatives talk traffic, water with leaders at Chamber

DULUTH - Rep. Mike Coan thinks a $1 billion water proposal will help solve Georgia's long-term water needs, but he thinks it will take even more to unclog traffic.

Coan, R-Lawrenceville, talked about the two major issues under debate at the Gold Dome during a session with leaders at the Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.

"Our economy is going to be either helped or hurt by this legislation," Coan said of the water bills in the Legislature. "In 20, 30, 40 years, our grandchildren are going to look at this as a success or a failure."

Coan is working on a plan to make the construction of reservoirs easier in the state, which is suffering one of its worst droughts in history.

The measure would create a water supply division within the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to focus on building reservoirs, he said. Other proposals include greater funding to fight the so-called water wars with Alabama and Florida and money to expand sewer systems to get rid of septic tanks.

"We've got a lot of hopes," he said.

Coan said he is also hopeful the House will vote on one of several proposals to increase funding for transportation, although he added that other branches may be slower to act.

"Transportation funding is required now and putting it off for whatever reason is not acceptable," he said, asking audience members for feedback on the proposals, which include a regional sales tax, a statewide sales tax and an increase to the gas tax.

"I don't think anybody cares what you choose," said Eben Hardie of Solution Property Group. "Just pick something now and go with it."

Rep. Bobby Reese, R-Sugar Hill, said he was concerned about the state of the Georgia Department of Transportation, since the new commissioner appointed this past year said there were major organizational problems within the department.

"Until they get their financial act together, I don't want to throw more money at them. It won't help," Reese said, adding that he is committed to helping cure the department's ills.