The Future of Georgia Transportation
By Chris Clark, Georgia Chamber President & CEO
As the Georgia economy continues its recovery, we are seeing the return of the strength and importance of logistics and transportation. Moving manufactured goods, agriculture products and employees around town and around the world requires a visionary outlook. We must ensure that the actual wheels of free enterprise continue to roll and, in doing so, create quality jobs for Georgians. A long-term plan for funding of Georgia’s roads, bridges, railways, ports, and technology is essential to our recovery and strategically important for a more resilient future.
The Georgia General Assembly created the Transportation Investment Act (TIA) in 2010 and it has been resoundingly successful in funding over 1,000 projects for local communities throughout the state, with numerous projects currently under construction. From road widenings to public transportation operational funding, the TIA has enabled regions in Georgia to significantly propel local economic development efforts. Perhaps that’s why voters gave a resounding thumbs-up to extending the program for another 10 years in parts of the state. By a margin of nearly 2-1, voters in various counties throughout Georgia chose to collectively make another 10-year investment in local roads, bridges, intersections, streetscapes, airports, emergency vehicles, sidewalks, and freight and logistics needs. In 2015, Georgia General Assembly also enacted HB 170 which resulted in more than one-billion dollars of infrastructure improvements to our roads and bridges, helping to support economic growth and mobility through Atlanta and the state of Georgia.
These success stories are why the Georgia Chamber works closely with its affiliate, the Georgia Transportation Alliance (GTA), to be at the forefront of statewide, multi-modal transportation investment. GTA conducted polling earlier in 2020 that clearly demonstrated what the voters in Georgia have experienced – transportation investment works. Almost half of all Georgians believe that transportation infrastructure is the most important function of government, and 52% of Georgians shared that they would re-elect an official who votes to increase infrastructure investment that improves safety and creates long term job opportunities.
We know that infrastructure and access to supply chains are essential to raising the bar for jobs and employment opportunities in both urban and rural areas. Additional government resources are not only necessary, but critical, to effectively deliver this infrastructure where it is needed. The Georgia Freight and Logistics Commission has been conducting a series of meetings focused on the critical infrastructure needs for transportation and developing a recommendation for long-term funding that will be crucial to Georgia’s economic growth, and ultimately to the livelihoods of all hardworking citizens in our state. The Chamber is dedicated to supporting the Commission’s leadership, under Senator Beach and Representative Tanner, in presenting a multi-year plan to the General Assembly during the upcoming legislative session.
Georgia must improve infrastructure and connectivity through public-private investment in broadband, highways, bridges, airports, rail, and transit to connect our communities. And our nation must pass a national infrastructure act to fund roads, bridges, rail, in-land ports, and ‘New Economy’ technologies. The statistics not only prove that these needs are imperative, but that Georgians also agree with it. Our recent, virtual Future of Freight and Logistics event hosted leaders from GDOT, the Port of Savannah and the Center for Innovation and Logistics, all of which highlighted the critical need for long-term investment.
Our state is one of the fastest-growing in the country and our ability and willingness to invest makes our economic recovery faster and, our future, stronger. As we move forward into 2021 and beyond, we challenge local and state leaders to engage in this vitally important conversation with an eye to innovation, safety, and growth. To learn more, please visit cantwaitforfreight.com.