The potential economic benefits of the proposed Georgia Export Import Highway were the subject of a talk by economic forecaster K.C. Conway at a recent lunch and learn hold by the Thomaston-Upson Chamber of Commerce. The Export Import Highway would be an extension of I-16 from Macon following the routes of GA-74 and GA-18 through Thomaston and Greenville, and ending at US 27 in LaGrange.
As reported in the Thomaston Times, Conway, who is a Vice-President of SunTrust Bank, touted the benefits of the highway, especially with the upcoming deepening of the Port of Savannah bringing additional container traffic, much of which will be shipped by truck.
“So when we come out of Savannah, we have the rail connections to get into the rail yards, but there is a big need for a lot of trucks moving, coming into Atlanta on I-75 and I-85. We’ll probably have complete gridlock on 75/85 south of I-285 within five years. Sometimes during the day we’re already there.
“The really important thing is with the export-import highway, we can bypass all of Atlanta and I-285 and bring the goods across to Cordele. Georgia is trying to create an inland port area there, which would be a magnet for every kind of industry you could imagine. We’ve also got airports along the route with runways long enough to make them into an airport reliever air cargo facility. So imagine the capacity of a Fed-Ex or UPS center. This would be a horizontal magnet that would bring all this industry here.
I think this highway would bring in $20 billion in economic impact, and probably 10,000 to 20,000 new real jobs.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed highway would be the Kia plant in West Point. The road would provide easier access to the Savannah port, or to the inland port at Cordele, south of Macon on I-75. In addition to the 80 mile east west route, there have been proposals to create another bypass highway along the route of US 27, which would provide access to I-75 north of Atlanta. In addition to allowing freight to move north without entering the heart of the metro Atlanta area, it would provide access to the Peach State’s new inland port in Murray County.