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Georgia should spend up to $121.5 billion over 30 years to improve the movement of freight across the state, a legislative panel has recommended.
The money would pay to upgrade roads and bridges to accommodate more trucks and for improvements that would allow more freight to be carried by rail or by air. It also would help deepen Savannah Harbor, where the Port of Savannah is booming.
The report by the Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics does not say how to pay for the improvements. The commission expects to propose solutions for that and other freight challenges by the end of this year.
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But in a report approved by the House and Senate Transportation Committees Jan. 30, it identified unmet needs totaling $103.9 billion to $121.5 billion. The report says the investment would amount to an extra $3.4 billion to $4 billion a year in state and federal money over three decades.
By comparison, the Georgia Department of Transportation currently spends about $3.7 billion a year on road building and other programs, including federal money.
“We need to be spending more dollars on highways and bridges,” said state Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, chairman of the House Transportation Committee. “The big question is, how do we do that?”
Other problems identified by the commission include a need to train more truck drivers and a lack of truck parking across the state. And it recommended establishing line items in the state budget for freight rail appropriations.
On Jan. 30 the House Transportation Committee approved House Bill 820, which would establish the budget items. It also approved House Resolution 935, which would extend the freight and logistics commission through the end of this year.
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