I am sure that many of you have read stories or seen reports about shipping backups at ports worldwide. These backups are even affecting our own Port of Savannah, but thankfully it has weathered these challenges better than many other U.S. ports. Although the causes of these backups are complicated and many of them have international components, I am committed to improving and maintaining our state’s infrastructure so that it can handle the trucks and trains used to transport goods across our state.

To identify opportunities to improve our state’s options for moving goods and people around our state quickly, in 2019 we established a two-year Georgia Commission on Freight and Logistics. In 2021, we extended the term of the commission for a third year. This additional year is to be used to identify viable sources of funding for those improvements. Freight movement at our Georgia ports is expected to double by 2028, causing the commission to recommend increasing rail capacity and upgrading many railroads across the state.

To reduce truck traffic on state highways, the bond package in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes $12.5 million to upgrade state-owned short-line railroads to Class II standards. These bonds fund projects to upgrade bridges and tracks for Georgia Southwestern Railroad, Heart of Georgia Railroad, and Chattooga and Chickamauga Railway. The budget also includes $100 million for capital road projects and bridge replacements across the state to continue infrastructure investment. Maintaining and upgrading our railroads will keep items moving quickly from the ports to their intended destinations.

Last year brought unique challenges and massive growth in e-commerce, forever changing how retailers delivered goods to people worldwide. This growth in e-commerce is not expected to reverse, and ensuring our state’s infrastructure is up to the task is a top priority. In response to these challenges, we established the Georgia Commission on E-Commerce and Freight Infrastructure Funding. I am proud to serve on this commission to develop a comprehensive, strategic business plan to develop statewide freight and logistics infrastructure. The commission’s business plan will keep Georgia competitive and growing.

This year’s budget for the Georgia Department of Transportation includes increases for the capital construction program. The capital construction program includes directives to use $20 million in existing state and federal funds to improve freight efficiency and truck safety on Georgia highways. These improvements will keep Georgia highways moving, ensuring that goods reach their final destination as quickly and safely as possible. For more information on funding for GDOT projects, visit www.GARoads.org.

As always, please do not hesitate to call (404 656-9210) or email me at gerald.greene@house.ga.gov to share your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to represent you in the General Assembly, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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Gerald Greene represents House District 151 in the Georgia General Assembly, where he serves as Chairman of the State Properties Committee.

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