Your Sunday Georgia Gang Update

Pointless set design flourishes distracted me for most of today’s show. The camera shot on guest and PP pal, Jim Galloway at Political Insider, showed a glass vase filled with rocks over Jim’s shoulder. I kept wondering if those belonged in Phil Kent’s head.

7 comments

  1. Icarus says:

    Watched the show this morning. (yep, I was the one.)

    I like it much better when Jim Galloway is on the show. He occasionally brings out topics of true substance, instead of the usual “Isn’t DeKalb horrible/why haven’t we incorporated Dunwoody?” crap.

    The gold nugget from this morning was the discussion, although brief, that there is a rail congestion problem, specifically from Savannah to Atlanta, with freight traffic.

    Understanding that our ports are growing rapidly but our rail lines are not is a subject that few have begun to grasp in our state.

    Norfolk Southern is already preparing to “double track” their main line from the gulf coast to D.C., including parts of Georgia (and thru Atlanta).

    Doing the same from Savannah to Atlanta would add to the efficiency of the Port of Savannah, and keep Atlanta the logistics center of the South.

    And, by the way, that would make commuter rail much cheaper and easier to implement.

    Anyone starting to catch on why the governor is now supporting the commuter rail line from Atlanta to Lovejoy, and beyond?

  2. Harry says:

    It great when railroads can get taxpayers to pay for a large part of their capital improvements. Railroads are making money hand over fist these days. They should make their own damn capital improvements.

  3. Chris says:

    Harry – Freight railroads are making money. Amtrac is costing the taxpayers millions.

    Chris

  4. boyreporter says:

    Ch. 5 should run something meaningful, like Roadrunner cartoons, instead of the Georgia Gang. WTF they about? Oh, I forgot: GOPuke watches in his jammies with feet.

  5. Dave Bearse says:

    The Georgia Gang…. it’s generally lacked balance since Bill Shipp left. Jeff and the other Business Chroncile guy offer little counterpoint on economic issues, Alexis bless her heart doesn’t pack much of a punch, leaving Kent and Dick to argue nuances with each other. Icarus is spot on that Galloway is currently the one bringing the most to the show.

    As a rail industry person I can tell you that the rail network between Atlanta and Savannah is not more congested that the eastern US rail network at large. The distance between Atlanta and Savannah is such that prior to the recent increase in fuel costs (which perhaps may manifest itself a tipping point with respect to Savannah-Atlanta intermodal transportation) rail (ship-truck-rail-truck) was not decidedly more economical than truck (ship-truck) to Atlanta. (Don’t construe this that I don’t think public-private investment in rail infrastructure in the corridor between the 1st and 2nd largest metropolitan areas in the state, and one connecting Atlanta to one if not the the fastest growing ports on the east coast, Savannah and Brunswick, isn’t worthy of examination!)

    Now that I’ve created for myself an opportunity on this thread to expound on rising energy costs relative to transportation….

    Transportation constitutes on the order of 15% of the cost of goods (electricity too being a good in that it has transportation costs). Double the price of energy, and the percentage due to transportation increases by say at least 33% to 20% of the cost of goods (labor being an element within the 15% transportation cost). That’s a sufficiently large increase to alter transportation patterns and inputs to the production process.

    Cheap energy contributed to cheap transportation that in turn fostered both of economy of scale and leveled the worldwide market for commodities,. Cheap transportation promoted globalization of manufacturing and made labor a key variable in manufacturing costs.

    Much higher energy (transportation) costs will at least nominally slow globalization by weakening economy of scale (lower unit production costs arising from size alone will be offset to a greater degree by higher transportation costs). More importantly the higher transportation costs will also act to slow the trend of the last 30 years of locating manufacturing operations based on access to cheap and available labor, and more on the proximity of commody inputs and the final markets. (Note the double whammy if the commodities msut be shipped from one continent to another to utilize cheap labor, and shipped again to final market—as in commodities from Africa to China to US/Europe.)

    There are other possible noteworthy effects. A reduction in transportation demand may blunt the edge of impending transportation capacity crises, US freight transportation network as a whole generally being served by an aged infrastructure and subject to the congestion facing personal vehicle users. A key point given six years of Georgia doing nothing.

    The reduction in demand is already occuring on the road network based on fuel purchases. On a personal level I think I’m seeing reduction of congestion in metro Atlanta beyond that typically associated with school being in recess….people are traveling less and carpooling or taking transit more. A change of only a few percent in travel demand at peak periods significantly reduces congestion and delay.

    Yes Harry, railroads are finally making big enough bucks 35 years after deregulation to be able to invest in additional capacity. One problem is a move afoot to re-regulate railroads, a prescription to choke off new investment in additional capacity. Another is that additional public investments carry a built in trucking subsidy—an 80,000 pound truck is equalivant to 5,000 passenger vehicles on a concrete pavement, but 80,000 pound trucks don’t pay 16 times the taxes.)

    Prediction: There will be 2009 sesstion General Assembly proposals for higher gross motor vehicle weight limits, a taxpayer giveaway if there ever was one.

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