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Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 10:19am

Logistics Leaders Cautious On Federal Funding

Executives at the fifth annual Georgia Logistics Summit held Wednesday on logistics say Georgia’s transportation system is poised to expand. But they are worried about a lack of federal funding.

Georgia Department of Transportation’s Todd Long says the agency’s federal funds are firm until 2014. But he says GDOT is very nervous about federal funding after that.

He says “Certainly from a perspective of gas tax, we rely on it heavily. With efficiency of the fleet, whether it’s cars, trucks, you name it, and the amount of travel we’re doing in America is not really growing like it used to grow. Our revenue stream is in dire straits.”

Long says priorities include I-85, I-75 between Atlanta and Macon and I-20 west.

Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, says only half the federal funds set aside for harbor maintenance are being given to states to keep up authorized depths and widths.

“So even though we need to further deepen, the first step we’ve got to do is maintain the harbors where they need to be maintained. Georgia is no exception to that. Our ports in Brunswick are well short of what they should be.”he says.

Foltz says we also need to expand the ports. He says in 20 years Southeast ports will be close to capacity.

Governor Deal says the state is ahead of the game in building the transportation infrastructure needed to handle a growing economy.

“We found that for every dollar that we invested in freight improvement, that over the next 40 years we expect to receive some 3 dollars and a half in return benefits. That’s not a bad return on investment. And at that rate, we expect that it will generate more than 65 billion dollars and thousands of new jobs for our state.”he says

Deal told the more than 2,000 executives attending the summit that Georgia will compete with any state out there for their business.

And he touted the fact that Georgia is eliminating the sales and use tax on energy used in manufacturing.

Bob Pertierra with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, says Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is seeing tremendous growth in its cargo traffic.

He says “Since the 1996 Olympic Games, which was sort of Georgia’s international coming out party in terms of air, we’ve had 124 percent growth in international air cargo volumes. Domestic has been relatively flat, but we continue to grow in international cargo volumes.”

Pertierra says Hartsfield-Jackson was critical in luring Kia, Baxter and Porche to locate in Georgia.