A new report compiled by TRIP outlines the possible transportation projects Georgia could initiate based on the monies raised by the Transportation Funding Act passed three years ago, as well as the gaps such funding is not sufficient enough to cover.
The report – entitled Modernizing Georgia's Transportation System: Progress & Challenges in Providing Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Roads, Highways & Bridges – looks at the impact of additional funds provided by passage of the TFA, a total of $5.4 billion from 2016 to 2021, and includes lists of projects throughout the state that will be completed or underway by 2021 partially as a result of increased transportation funding.
The report also lists transportation projects needed throughout the state as well; projects that still lack sufficient funding to proceed prior to 2022.
"Additional funding is without question still necessary in order to fully meet our needs and we are hopeful we will be able to attract federal support while identifying additional state and local resources," noted Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurray in a statement.
According to the TRIP report, 5 percent of Georgia's bridges are structurally deficient, but the additional funding provided by the TFA has allowed GDOT to increase by three-and-a-half times the annual number of bridges it is able to repair, reconstruct, or replace.
An average of 67 bridges were repaired, replaced or reconstructed each year from 2011 to 2015, TRIP noted in its report, while an average of 232 bridges will be repaired, replaced or reconstructed each year between 2016 and 2020.
While additional transportation funding provided by the TFA will allow GDOT to reduce the share of state-maintained roads in poor or bad condition, it is not adequate to prevent the share of state roads and highways in excellent or good condition from declining, the group found.
The share of state-maintained roads in bad or poor condition across Georgia is projected to fall from 13 percent in 2016 to zero by 2019, but the share of state-maintained roads in excellent or good condition is projected to decline dramatically as well, TRIP's research found – falling from 49 percent in 2016 to 15 percent in 2024.
The efficiency and condition of Georgia's transportation system, particularly its highways, is critical to the health of the state's economy, the group noted. Annually, $790 billion in goods are shipped to and from sites in Georgia, relying heavily on the state's network of roads and bridges.
The report also said that, increasingly, companies are looking at the "quality" of a region's transportation system when deciding where to re-locate or expand.
Georgia's population is also anticipated to increase by 2.5 million people by 2040 and vehicle travel in the state growing at the second highest rate nationally since 2013, the TRIP report found. Traffic congestion is also worsening across the Peach state, causing up to 56 annual hours of delay for some drivers and costing as much as $1,226 annually per driver in lost time and wasted fuel.
"While the recent influx of funding has allowed Georgia to make strides in improving its transportation system, more work still needs to be done to accommodate and capitalize on the tremendous growth projected for the state," said Will Wilkins, TRIP's executive director, in a statement. "Georgia will need to continue to make transportation investment a top priority."
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