Guest Op-ed from the Georgia Transportation Alliance
In today’s economic environment, meeting our transportation needs is one of the most difficult challenges for elected and civic leaders. While Georgia is home to the world’s busiest airport and the fastest growing port on the east coast, we also face declining motor fuel revenue and the arrival of 3 million more Georgians by 2030. These assets and challenges require an innovative, multi-faceted approach to building our infrastructure. Fortunately, Governor Nathan Deal and the state’s transportation agencies are strongly demonstrating a commitment to those creative solutions.
Last month, GDOT completed a series of open house meetings to educate the public about the construction of new capacity along I-75 in Clayton and Henry Counties. The new lanes would be reversible, adding extra capacity along the corridor during rush hour, and would be paid for with toll revenue. The pricing would be variable, like the tolls on I-85 north of Atlanta, and will both help pay for the project and mitigate congestion.
GDOT is also aggressively executing a public private partnership that will add almost 30 miles of managed lane capacity in the gridlocked interstates of Cobb and Cherokee Counties. When the Northwest Corridor project opens for traffic in four years, commuters will benefit from a combination of innovative technology and faster connectivity. These managed lanes will also allow for more efficient transit operations for express buses and local transit authorities.
In these two projects, Governor Nathan Deal, the Georgia Department of Transportation, and the State Road and Tollway Authority have demonstrated their expertise in finding cost effective ways to mitigate congestion in two of our state’s most infamous chokepoints. The economic development benefits of these projects are numerous, as freight and logistics companies will be able to move goods through our state more cost effectively.
Their leadership doesn’t stop there. The 2014 budget passed by the General Assembly includes another round of investment in the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. To date, the state has committed nearly $230 million to the completion of Georgia’s biggest economic development project since the 5th runway at Hartsfield Jackson International Airport. This is a clear demonstration of a commitment to transportation priorities all across the state of Georgia.
Finally, barely four months after revenue collections began, GDOT approved funding for the first project to be built with funds from the Transportation Investment Act. A local street improvement project in Toombs County is the first investment of the almost $2 billion that will be generated over the next ten years. GDOT is number one or number two in the entire country for delivering projects on time and on budget and that commitment to excellence combined with communities willingness to participate will drive the TIA to be one of the most successful transportation development programs in Georgia’s history.
While Georgia’s transportation challenges are numerous, it’s clear that the leadership in our state is committed to creative, progressive solutions for our transportation system that will benefit Georgians long into the future. That is why the Georgia Transportation Alliance and members of the business community from throughout the state look forward to continuing to work with our leadership to solidify Georgia’s position as a global logistics hub and an outstanding place to live.
Seth Millican, Director
Georgia Transportation Alliance