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Thursday, February 16, 2012 - 12:04pm

Report Ranks Georgia Freight Projects

A new report upends some long-held assumptions about how freight traffic moves through Georgia.

But a state-backed analysis released this week also reaffirms the state's push toward deepening the Savannah harbor.

Transportation experts previously thought most freight moving in the state merely was passing through.

But a report prepared by the state Departments of Transportation and Economic Development says, up to three quarters of cargo traffic either is going to or from someplace in Georgia.

Page Siplon of Georgia's Center of Innovation for Logistics says, that means, road, rail and port projects have to work together.

"Ports are hubs," Siplon says. "And they're called hubs for a reason because they have to get that cargo out. And the ports that can do that more effectively are more competitive."

The analysis is described as the first comprehensive freight and logistics plan for Georgia.

"Eighty percent of the cargo that goes out of our ports in general, and here in Georgia as well, goes out on our roads," Siplon says. "And so access to the road system is critical."

The report's top priority is the Savannah harbor expansion.

But a Macon-to-LaGrange highway, Metro Atlanta interstate exchanges and statewide rail improvements also rank high.

Middle Georgia's Fall Line Freeway ranks low. Here are other selected projects:

High Cost Benefit Projects (Cost Benefit Ratio)

METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-85 North (6.11)
MACON TO LAGRANGE: U.S. 27 4-laning (5.29)
METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-75 North (4.41)
METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-20 East (3.85)
STATEWIDE: Freight Rail Improvements (3.30)
METRO CHATTANOOGA: I-75 Bypass (2.94)
ATLANTA TO SOUTH CAROLINA: I-85 Improvements (1.81)
ATLANTA TO ALABAMA: I-20 Improvements (1.52)
ATLANTA TO ALABAMA: I-85 Improvements (1.32)
ATLANTA TO MACON: I-75 Improvements (1.24)
METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-20 West (1.59)
SOUTH GEORGIA: US 84 Improvements (.63)
SOUTH GEORGIA: State Road 133 Improvements (.63)
NORTH, MIDDLE, SOUTH: US 441 Improvements (.62)

Low Cost Benefit Projects (Cost Benefit Ratio)

MIDDLE GEORGIA: Fall Line Freeway (-0.85)
SOUTH GEORGIA: US 280 Improvements (.01)
METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-85 South (.04)
METRO ATLANTA: I-285 Exchange at I-75 South (.33)
MACON TO SAVANNAH: I-16 Improvements (.28)
ATLANTA TO TENNESSEE: I-75 Improvements (.43)
MACON TO FLORIDA: I-75 Improvements (.64)
METRO ATLANTA: Western Bypass (.69)
COASTAL GEORGIA: I-95 Improvements (.83)
ATLANTA TO SOUTH CAROLINA: I-20 Improvements (.91)
METRO ATLANTA: Northern Bypass (.93)

See how other projects across the state rank by going to Section 4.1 of this PDF document.