(a) The powers and duties of the department, unless otherwise expressly limited by law, shall include but not be limited to the following:
(1) The department shall plan, designate, improve, manage, control, construct, and maintain a state highway system and shall have control of and responsibility for all construction, maintenance, or any other work upon the state highway system and all other work which may be designated to be done by the department by this title or any other law. However, on those portions of the state highway system lying within the corporate limits of any municipality, the department shall be required to provide only substantial maintenance activities and operations, including but not limited to reconstruction and major resurfacing, reconstruction of bridges, erection and maintenance of official department signs, painting of striping and pavement delineators, furnishing of guardrails and bridge rails, and other major maintenance activities; and, furthermore, the department may by contract authorize and require any rapid transit authority created by the General Assembly to plan, design, and construct, at no cost to the department and subject to the department's review and approval of design and construction, segments of the state highway system necessary to replace those portions of the system which the rapid transit authority and the department agree must be relocated in order to avoid conflicts between the rapid transit authority's facilities and the state highway system;
(2) Except for appropriations to authorize the issuance of general obligation debt for public road work, or to pay such debt, the department shall be the state agency to receive and shall have control and supervision of all funds appropriated for public road work by the state and activities incident thereto from the net proceeds of motor fuel tax, as provided in Article III, Section IX, Paragraph VI(b) of the Constitution of Georgia and any other funds appropriated or provided for by law for such purposes or for performing other functions of the department. If the General Assembly fails to appropriate all of the net proceeds of the motor fuel tax to the department, to the State of Georgia General Obligation Debt Sinking Fund, and to counties for public road work and activities incident thereto, any such unappropriated part of such funds, exclusive of those proceeds required by law to be provided as grants to counties for the construction and maintenance of county roads, shall be made available to the department by the state treasurer, notwithstanding any provisions to the contrary in Part 1 of Article 4 of Chapter 12 of Title 45, the “Budget Act”;
(3) The department shall provide for surveys, plans, maps, specifications, and other things necessary in designating, supervising, locating, abandoning, relocating, improving, constructing, or maintaining the state highway system or any part thereof, or any activities incident thereto, or in doing such other work on public roads as the department may be given responsibility for or control of by law;
(4) The department shall reimburse the Department of Law for expenses incurred when the Attorney General of Georgia assigns any assistant attorney general or any deputy assistant attorney general to perform specific legal services in connection with the validation of any bonds as authorized by Code Section 45-15-16 or in connection with contract lawsuits and the acquisition of rights of way for any project on the state highway system constructed or to be constructed by the department and when such services are designated by the Attorney General to include specific items of legal services involving the trial or preparation for trial of individual condemnation cases, contract lawsuits, and related matters on such project or projects, or a group or series of condemnation cases, contract lawsuits, and related matters in connection with a specific project or projects; provided, however, that no such reimbursement shall be made until the Attorney General has submitted a statement of the expenses of such legal services to the department, which statement shall include the name of the assistant attorney general performing such services, the items of legal services performed and the cost thereof, and, further, that no reimbursement shall be made for the expenses of legal services for contract lawsuits unless such services had the advance approval of the commissioner;
(5) The department shall have the authority to negotiate, let, and enter into contracts with the Georgia Highway Authority, the State Road and Tollway Authority, any person, any state agency, or any county or municipality of the state for the construction or maintenance of any public road or any other mode of transportation or for the benefit of or pertaining to the department or its employees in such manner and subject to such express limitations as may be provided by law;
(6) The department shall have the authority to negotiate and enter into reciprocal agreements and contracts with other states or agencies or subdivisions thereof concerning public roads and other modes of transportation and activities incident thereto;
(7) The department and the State Road and Tollway Authority shall be the proper agencies of the state to discharge all duties imposed on the state by any act of Congress allotting federal funds to be expended for public road and other transportation purposes in this state. The department shall have the authority to accept and use federal funds; to enter into any contracts or agreements with the United States or its agencies or subdivisions relating to the planning, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance of any public road or other mode or system of transportation; and to do all things necessary, proper, or expedient to achieve compliance with the provisions and requirements of all applicable federal-aid acts and programs. Nothing in this title is intended to conflict with any federal law; and, in case of such conflict, such portion as may be in conflict with such federal law is declared of no effect to the extent of the conflict;
(8) The department shall have the authority to exercise the right and power of eminent domain and to purchase, exchange, sell, lease, or otherwise acquire or dispose of any property or any rights or interests therein for public road and other transportation purposes or for any activities incident thereto, subject to such express limitations as are provided by law;
(9) The department and its authorized agents and employees shall have the authority to enter upon any lands in the state for the purpose of making such surveys, soundings, drillings, and examinations as the department may deem necessary or desirable to accomplish the purposes of this title; and such entry shall not be deemed a trespass, nor shall it be deemed an entry which would constitute a taking in a condemnation proceeding, provided that reasonable notice is given the owner or occupant of the property to be entered and that such entry shall be done in a reasonable manner with as little inconvenience as possible to the owner or occupant of the property;
(10) In locating, relocating, constructing, improving, or maintaining any road on the state highway system, the department shall have the authority to control or limit access thereto, including the authority to close off or regulate access from any part of any public road on a county road system or municipal street system to the extent necessary in the public interest;
(11) The department shall have the authority to construct and to perform substantial maintenance of public roads within the boundaries of state parks and on main access roads leading into such parks;
(12)(A) The department shall have the authority to formulate, promulgate, and enforce rules and regulations setting minimum safety standards for bridges on federal-aid public roads and to inspect and close any bridge on any such public road which does not comply with the minimum standards set by the department and which the department determines is unsafe for public travel. No new bridge shall be constructed on any such public road without there first having been obtained a permit for its construction from the department, such permit to be issued only where the proposed bridge will meet the minimum standards set by the department.
(B) The department may inspect and determine the maximum load, weight, and other vehicular dimensions which can be safely transported over each bridge on the state highway system and may post on each such bridge a legible notice showing such maximum safe limits. It shall be unlawful for any person to haul, drive, or bring onto any bridge any vehicle, load, or weight which in any manner exceeds the maximum limits so ascertained and posted on such bridge;
(13) The department shall have the authority to establish, maintain, and operate ferries as part of a public road and to authorize and issue permits for any state agency, any county or municipality, or any private person to establish, maintain, and operate ferries as part of a public road whenever, in the discretion of the department, such ferries are reasonably necessary and in the best interest of the public. All such ferries shall be operated subject to such rules and regulations as the department may adopt to protect the public interest, and the authorization of any such ferry may be revoked whenever, in the discretion of the department, its continued operation is no longer necessary or in the best interest of the public;
(14) The department shall have those duties and powers in regard to programs relating to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority established by subsection (i) of Section 8 of an Act approved March 10, 1965 (Ga. L. 1965, p. 2243), particularly as amended by Section 5 of an Act approved March 16, 1971 (Ga. L. 1971, p. 2092);
(17)(A) Subject to general appropriations for such purposes, the department is authorized to plan for and establish a long-term policy in regard to the establishment, development, and maintenance of aviation and aviation facilities in the state; to promote and encourage the use of aviation facilities of the state for air commerce in the state, between the state and other states, and between the state and foreign countries; to cooperate with, counsel, and advise political subdivisions of the state and other departments, boards, bureaus, commissions, agencies, or establishments, whether federal, state, local, public, or private, for the purpose of promoting and obtaining coordination in the planning for and in the establishment, development, construction, maintenance, and protection of a system of air routes, airports, landing fields, and other aviation facilities in the state.
(B) Subject to general appropriations for such purposes, the department is authorized to construct or to contract with any state agency, political subdivision, authority, or person for the construction of airports and of facilities and appurtenances incident to their operation. The authority and limitations of Article 4 of this chapter pertaining to department contracts and subcontracts for construction of public roads shall likewise apply to such airport construction contracts; provided, however, that such a contract when negotiated with a political subdivision shall not be subject to the limitation of subparagraph (d)(1)(A) of Code Section 32-2-61 pertaining to the average bid price for the 60 day period preceding the making of the contract. Article 1 of Chapter 3 and Chapter 7 of this title shall apply to the acquisition or disposition of land or interests therein for such airport construction.
(C) Subject to general appropriations for such purposes, the department is authorized to establish air markers at appropriate locations throughout the state to facilitate air navigation within the state. Said markers shall consist of painting on appropriately located roofs of buildings the names of towns or cities within which such buildings are located, such names to be painted in sufficient size to be legible under good visibility conditions from a height of at least 3,000 feet. The department is authorized to obtain roof releases from the owners of buildings upon which air markers are to be painted or otherwise to obtain permission from such owners to use such roofs for such purposes and to pay the owners reasonable and nominal rentals therefor if such payment is necessary in order to obtain the appropriate permission for the use of such roofs for such purposes.
(D) Subject to general appropriations for such purposes, the department is authorized to maintain or to control for the maintenance of department owned or department leased airports, their facilities, and appurtenances incident to their operation. The authority and limitations of Article 4 of this chapter pertaining to contracts and subcontracts for maintenance of public roads shall likewise apply to such contracts for the maintenance of such department owned or department leased airports, provided that such a contract when negotiated with a political subdivision shall not be subject to the limitation of subparagraph (d)(1)(A) of Code Section 32-2-61 pertaining to the average bid price for the 60 day period preceding the making of the contract;
(18)(A) Subject to general appropriations and any provisions of Chapter 5 of this title to the contrary notwithstanding, the department is authorized within the limitations provided in subparagraph (B) of this paragraph to provide to municipalities, counties, authorities, and state agencies financial support by contract for clearing, dredging, or maintaining free from obstructions and for the widening, deepening, and improvement of the ports, seaports, or harbors of this state.
(B)(i) Municipalities, counties, authorities, or state agencies may, by formal resolution, apply to the department for financial assistance provided by this paragraph.
(ii) The department shall review the proposal and, if satisfied that the proposal is in accordance with the purposes of this paragraph, may enter into a contract for expenditure of funds.
(iii) The time of payment and any conditions concerning such funds shall be set forth in the contract.
(C) In addition to subparagraph (A) of this paragraph and subject to general appropriations for such purposes, the department with its own forces or by contract may clear, dredge, or maintain free from obstruction and may widen, deepen, and improve the ports, seaports, or harbors of this state;
(19) Code Sections 32-3-1 and 32-6-115 notwithstanding, the department may by contract grant to any rapid transit authority created by the General Assembly, under such terms and conditions as the department may deem appropriate, the right to occupy or traverse a portion of the right of way of any road on the state highway system by or with its mass transportation facilities. Furthermore, the department may by contract lease to the rapid transit authority, under such terms and conditions as the department may deem appropriate, the right to occupy, operate, maintain, or traverse by or with its mass transportation facilities any parking facility constructed by the department. Notwithstanding Code Section 48-2-17 , all net revenue derived from the lease shall be utilized by the department to offset the cost of constructing any parking facility. Regardless of any financial expenditures by the rapid transit authority, no right of use or lease granted under this paragraph shall merge into or become a property interest of the rapid transit authority. Upon the transfer of the title of the mass transportation facilities to private ownership or upon the operation of the rapid transportation facilities for the financial gain of private persons, such rights granted by the department shall automatically terminate and all rapid transportation facilities shall be removed from the rights of way of the state highway system; and
(20) The department, in consultation with the Georgia Technology Authority, shall have the authority to plan for, establish, and implement a long-term policy with regard to the use of the rights of way of the interstate highways and state owned roads for the establishment, development, and maintenance of the deployment of broadband services and other emerging communications technologies throughout the state by public or private providers, or both. The department shall be authorized to promote and encourage the use of such rights of way of the interstate highways and state owned roads for such purposes to the extent feasible and prudent. All net revenues from the use, lease, or other activities in such rights of way in excess of any project costs, that are not subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Highway Administration or that are not otherwise restricted by any federal laws, rules, or regulations, shall be paid into the general fund of the state treasury subject to any restrictions imposed by the Federal Highway Administration. It is the intention of the General Assembly, subject to the appropriation process, that a portion of the amount so deposited into the general fund of the state treasury be appropriated each year to programs to be administered by the Georgia Technology Authority, the Department of Community Affairs, and other state agencies as provided in Chapter 40 of Title 50 to be used to promote and provide broadband services throughout the state.
(b) In addition to the powers specifically delegated to it in this title, the department shall have the authority to perform all acts which are necessary, proper, or incidental to the efficient operation and development of the department and of the state highway system and of other modes and systems of transportation; and this title shall be liberally construed to that end. Any power vested by law in the department but not implemented by specific provisions for the exercise thereof may be executed and carried out by the department in a reasonable manner pursuant to such rules, regulations, and procedures as the department may adopt and subject to such limitations as may be provided by law.
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