Georgia panel gets go-ahead to continue work on freight movement
August 17, 2020
The pursuit of improvements to freight movement throughout Georgia via road and rail can continue.
Gov. Brian Kemp has signed into law legislation that addresses the movement of freight.
Focus on freight
Over the past year, leading lawmakers have given attention to the issue of freight movement throughout the state.
The Georgia Commission on Freight & Logistics began meeting 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 impacts 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 unmet need of investments over the next three decades range from $135 billion to $153 billion. An additional $3 billion to $4 billion annually in state and federal funds is necessary over that time period.
Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Brandon Beach, R-Alpharetta, has said, to ensure Georgia remains a top state in which to do business, state and local leaders must work to promote a comprehensive freight and logistics plan.
In an effort to address their findings, the freight and logistics commission has recommended that the state spend up to $120 billion over 30 years to support the transportation sector.
The road ahead
The group, led by Beach and House Transportation Committee Chairman Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, is working to address projections that show container freight moving through the ports of Savannah and Brunswick will double before the end of the decade. The group’s work, however, was facing one stumbling block: Time.
A measure signed into law a year ago limited the commission’s work to one year. In order to continue their work on recommendations for how to raise money to accomplish their goals, the Legislature and governor were required to authorize an extension.
Beach said the extension was necessary to further study specific solutions.
The commission received the approval necessary to continue their work via a resolution, HR935, signed into law this month by Gov. Kemp.