Georgia – The state of Georgia ranks pretty high nationally when it comes to overall cost-effectiveness and condition. According to the Annual Highway Report by Reason Foundation, Georgia’s highway system ranks 4th in the nation, which is a 10-spot improvement from the previous year. However, methodological changes made in the report from previous years heavily impact the final score, which is just a part of the whole picture about traffic in Georgia.
Traffic congestion in Georgia, especially in urban areas, is a real problem that needs immediate action. Keeping in mind that such serious changes require a lot of money and time, Georgia officials should consider taking action towards improving road infrastructure as soon as now! The reason is simple: traffic congestion is only going to get worse, causing Georgians to lose money and precious time. Currently, data shows that Georgia drivers waste 28.9 hours a year in traffic congestion. Compared to North Carolina, for example, that’s 1.8 times more.
Speaking to the members of the State Transportation Board earlier this week, Commissioner of Transportation Russell McMurry said that immediate action is needed and there is a lot to be done in the coming years if we want to improve road conditions, safety on the roads statewide, and less time wasted in traffic congestion. Otherwise, McMurry noted that traffic is going to get much worse. By 2050, the state of Georgia will have to spend at least $81 billion on road infrastructure improvements.
By 2050, Georgia expects to see a massive increase in manufacturing, farming, and warehouse activities. This boom will double the amount of goods transported since 2015, the year when significant transport funding was last approved in the state.
According to McMurry, as a result of this growth, the cost for businesses to manage traffic will increase 131% from $14.4 million in 2015 to $33.3 million by 2050.
Starting in 2016, Georgia began a large-scale project to improve transportation. This includes major upgrades to highway junctions, widening highways, adding lanes for commercial vehicles, and enhancing roads near the Savannah Port.
Efforts are also in progress to expand roads and construct new junctions near two big electric-vehicle factories, one east of Atlanta and the other west of Savannah.
However, out of the $81 billion in transportation projects McMurry mentioned, only $26 billion is currently planned. McMurry emphasized the need to start planning for the remaining projects soon.
“The projects we build and develop take a long time,” McMurry said. “It’s easily a decade to do big things.”
Georgia currently has a $16 billion surplus, and $11 billion of that money is undesignated. Those funds, according to McMurry, should be invested in road infrastructure in Georgia, following the trends of some other states that heavily invest their budget surplus funds in major road projects in the long run.
The Georgia Chamber of Commerce already received McMurry’s presentation from earlier this week, as he advised businesses to join and push the state Department of Transportation together to allow funding for highway projects in the years to come.
A survey from earlier this year shows that Georgia’s capital drivers spend 53 hours every year dealing with congestion, securing a spot in the Top Ten U.S. cities with the worst traffic.