Georgia voices: The DOT’s ‘Golden rule’
by The Savannah Morning News
August 27, 2013 01:28 AM | 1401 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
It’s reassuring to know that someone like Keith Golden is running the Georgia Department of Transportation, one of the most important arms of state government.

This newspaper strongly criticized the DOT chief in this space for ongoing construction delays on the new Skidaway Island bridge.

This $22.5 million project was supposed to be finished last November. Instead, it appears the work won’t get completed until late September. If then.

The inability of the DOT and its private contractor to finish the job has frustrated thousands of commuters, not to mention state lawmakers who represent this part of Chatham County. Faced with mounting criticism, it would have been easy for Commissioner Golden to lapse into buck-passing mode.

That’s what many public officials do when they feel the heat, from President Obama down to lowly pencil-pushers.

But not Golden. ...

Interestingly, Golden isn’t a politician in the traditional sense of that word. He’s a career DOT man, someone who holds degrees in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and has worked for the department as an engineer and manager for 26 years.

He got the DOT’s top job last year, when the 13-member DOT board picked him to replace the former commissioner, Vance Smith, a former state lawmaker who ran a private construction business.

Smith was forced out because of a controversy over how DOT contracts were awarded; Golden was the surprise pick to succeed him.

It’s equally surprising — in a good way — that the commissioner isn’t someone who makes excuses. That buys him credibility — something several previous DOT commissioners have lacked.

Thus when he writes, as he did today, “Soon you will have a safe, modern bridge across the Narrows, a bridge that will well serve your community for decades to come,” people may be more inclined to believe him than before.

That’s good for a department with a $2 billion annual budget and 4,500 employees. More importantly, it’s good for the people of Georgia who need better roads and bridges.

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