A number of Georgia’s top transportation officials shared information, concerns and suggestions with Shuster, who said he was visiting Georgia to view firsthand the Port of Savannah and other transportation issues in the state.
“Transportation connectivity drives the economy of the state,” Perimeter Community Improvement Districts President and CEO Yvonne Williams told Shuster. “All major interchanges must operate at top safety and capacity to ensure future growth and development of jobs and the delivery of goods and services statewide and throughout the country.”
The improvement districts have made improvements to the I-285 and Georgia 400 Interchange their top priority, Williams said.
She also presented an overview of what the private sector in the Perimeter area of Dunwoody, Brookhaven and Sandy Springs has done to improve traffic congestion and access to the Perimeter market.
“Since 1999, the PCIDs, which are funded by commercial property owners in the districts, have leveraged $31.1 million of CID funds to gain $114.4 million from other resources for a total of more than $145.5 million worth of transportation and infrastructure projects for Perimeter,” Williams said. “Perimeter is Georgia’s largest corporate center and has all the ingredients to create a great transportation network.”
Kingston said investments in infrastructure promote commerce, keeping freight moving in Georgia is keeping the economy in motion and congestion mitigation needs to occur prior to the deepening of the Port of Savannah.
Shuster and several other speakers noted the importance of infrastructure improvements for creating jobs. He called funding for deepening the Savannah Port “a jobs bill” not only for logistics related workers, but for manufacturers also.
The Water Resources Development Act should reach the U.S. House floor for a vote the week this week, Shuster said.
“It’s important to pass this for the Port of Savannah and the entire nation,” he said.
Georgia Transportation Alliance Chair Michael Sullivan praised the additional tax dollars that community improvement districts bring to the table, but said Georgia is not doing enough at the state level to fund transportation.
MARTA CEO and General Manager Keith Parker said Atlanta’s transit system is making major progress. For the second time in 15 years, MARTA has balanced its budget, said Parker, who joined MARTA last December.
“We are not raising fares and we will be adding new services beginning in December,” said Parker.