April 19, 2017 2:00 PM, EDT

Georgia’s I-75 North Truck Lanes Deemed Wasteful in New Report

Jimmy Emerson, DVM/Flickr

A $2 billion project that would lead to the country’s first longhaul truck-only lanes through nearly 40 miles along Interstate 75 in Georgia was categorized as wasteful in a new report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group with the Frontier Group.

Researchers criticized the Georgia project for duplicating rail-based options that are underway. Also, by not imposing tolls on truckers the project essentially would provide a giveaway to the trucking industry as taxpayers cover the cost of construction.

‘With millions of dollars being spent elsewhere to support freight traffic to the Port of Savannah and major questions about the effectiveness of the concept, the speculative giveaway to the trucking industry should be put on hold,” according to the report.

In its early stages, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the project’s supporters suggest it would help reduce congestion along traffic lanes and improve safety.

The two truck-only lanes were among nine projects the group identified as “highway boondoggles.” Other examples included the I-405 widening in California at $1.9 billion, the $.13 billion, I-73 link from I-95 to Myrtle Beach, S.C., and the I-30 widening in Arkansas at $632 million.

They based their assessment on driving patterns and forecasts that could indicate expansion projects likely would lead to greater congestion. State DOTs need to consider driving trends and freight needs when approving major infrastructure investments, they added.

“Americans are fed up with their commutes, but decades of research shows us that more and wider highways aren't the answer,” Tony Dutzik, senior policy analyst with Frontier Group and co-author of the report, said in a statement April 18. “The $27 billion we currently spend each year on highway expansion can’t fix congestion, but it could make a big difference in fixing our streets and transit systems, and in giving Americans more transportation choices in their daily lives.”