A quick geography lesson. What interstate highways connect Savannah, home of one of the busiest ports on the East Coast, and Atlanta, where the busiest airport in the nation is located? Clue, two run right through Macon -- Interstate 16 and Interstate 75.
Middle Georgia is in a unique position to capitalize on the cargo traffic coming and going to the Savannah and Brunswick ports. The Georgia ports handled 2.31 million containers during the first nine months of the current fiscal year and is on track to break a record of 3 million containers in 2014. What that means for Middle Georgia, if we play our cards right, is that our area could become a vital transportation hub. The ports have been preparing to handle more traffic, and we have to prepare, too. To do that, we need state and federal help to eliminate the bottleneck that is the I-75/I-16 interchange. We also need to work on our east/west connectors, particularly those highways that can reach the Middle Georgia Regional Airport, Robins Air Force Base and Brosnan Rail Yards. In addition, expanding the runway at Middle Georgia Regional Airport should be a priority.
This will take regional cooperation, something that was lacking in the T-SPLOST effort. Such highway infrastructure for the easy flow of cargo will make Middle Georgia an attractive place for support businesses with good, high-paying jobs. These projects will take years to complete. We need to start now.