Mon., September 6, 2010 12:00am (EDT)

More Port Traffic A Concern For Some
By Orlando Montoya
Updated: 4 years ago

SAVANNAH, Ga.  —  
This increasingly will be a windshield view for Georgia drivers as the Georgia Ports Authority grows.  (photo Dirk Ingo Franke)
This increasingly will be a windshield view for Georgia drivers as the Georgia Ports Authority grows. (photo Dirk Ingo Franke)
A project to deepen the Savannah harbor is expected to put lots more trucks on Georgia's highways.

Highway safety advocates say, the state should think about passing stonger trucking regulations to prepare for them.

The Savannah port currently handles about 7,000 trucks a day and officials expect that number to double.

Georgia ranks in the top five for number of fatalities from car-truck collisions, and 13th in per capita fatalities.

More trucks on the road could increase those dangers.

Safe Roads America, a highway safety group, wants Georgia to adopt stricter trucking regulations.

"It's great news for the economy of Georgia that more traffic would come into the ports," says Tom Hodgson, who lives and works in Atlanta but whose organization is national in scope. "But what people fail to realize is that all this additional freight is going to mean more trucks on the road."

Hodgson would like to see the ports require all trucks doing business with the ports to require the use of speed-limiting technology, such as governors, on trucks.

Truckers say, they already are highly regulated.

"All truckers are under a lot more scrutiny," says Frank Young of B&H Trucking in Sandersville. "And if trucking companies adhere to those standards, I do not see any issue with truck safety."

Port officials say, they are not in the business of trucking regulations, but are pushing for improvements to port-area highways.

They have lobbied state officials for the final bit of funding for the Jimmy Deloach Parkway.

"We're trying to create a beltway so that port traffic can directly access our ports in almost a direct Interstate or highway system," says Curtis Foltz, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority. "We have worked extremely closely with the state DOT and the General Assembly in making sure our road infrastructure is improved."

The ports also have improved rail capacity so more containers can be moved by rail instead of highway.

They expect to finish the harbor deepening project in 2015.