Georgia freight commission looks to continue work on freight movement
June 11, 2020
Efforts to improve freight movement throughout Georgia via road and rail are expected to be on the agenda when the state Legislature reconvenes next week.
Work at the statehouse in Atlanta was halted early this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The regular session is scheduled to resume on Monday, June 15.
Attention to freight movement
Among the issues identified by leading lawmakers as being essential to address before the expected June 30 adjournment is the movement of freight.
The Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics has been meeting since last summer to come up with plans to reduce traffic congestion and enhance freight movement. The panel made up of state lawmakers, local government officials, logistics professionals and other leaders of organizations and state agencies was established by a 2019 legislative resolution.
Among the group’s findings is a need to continue to consider “unique and specific solutions” for the trucking industry to reduce the driving risks for professional drivers and motorists, expand dedicated lanes for freight movement, and reduce traffic congestion in and out of the ports and around metropolitan areas.
“As a huge distribution hub, with 84% of freight moving on trucks and an ever-growing population, mobility of people and freight faces increasing challenges,” read the commission’s findings.
Further, the group found that freight statewide is expected to increase 30% by 2045 and by 56% in metro Atlanta by 2040.
“The lack of parking is an issue in need of a solution as soon as possible,” the commission warned.
The unmet need of investments over the next three decades range from $135 billion to $153 billion, it said. An additional $3 billion to $4 billion annually in state and federal funds is necessary over that time period.
“Georgia has numerous competitive advantages when it comes to transportation and freight infrastructure, but we cannot afford to grow complacent,” House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said in previous remarks.
To address issues listed in its findings, the commission has recommended that the state spend up to $120 billion over 30 years to support the transportation sector.
The group – led by Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, and House Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville – plans to continue its work soon on recommendations for how to raise money to accomplish their goals.
However, in order to continue their work the Legislature must authorize extending the commission beyond this summer. A measure signed into law last year limited its work to one year.
A House resolution, HR935, previously approved by the House and awaiting further consideration in the Senate, would authorize the commission to continue to work through the end of this year.
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