Georgia transportation officials are exploring the idea of a separate highway for trucks only.
It would be the first highway of its kind in the United States, said John Hibbard, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s operations director.
WABE Radio reports that the toll-free highway would stretch 40 miles (65 kilometers) from metro Atlanta to Macon. It would give trucks their own separate roadway, which would have its own exits and entrances, Hibbard said.
State transportation officials say they expect truck traffic to double by 2040. The truck-only lanes have been proposed as a solution to reducing congestion for drivers of noncommercial vehicles on Georgia interstates.
Gov. Nathan Deal praised the truck-only highway during a recent Georgia Transportation Alliance meeting, calling it “an important part of what our future transportation system should and will look like.”
The project’s estimated cost of $1.8 billion is raising eyebrows, the radio station reported.
Georgia would ask for federal funds, but if the government doesn’t come through, Deal said the project could still move forward with state money, specifically because of the state’s Transportation Funding Act, passed in 2015. The act is paid for by an increase in fuel taxes.
But critics said the high cost is troubling.
Matt Casale is a transportation analyst with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. His team ranked Georgia’s truck-only lanes among the worst highway proposals in the country in 2017.
“It’s really a gamble with the taxpayers’ money,” Casale said. “It’s a lot of taxpayer money, and it’s a lot of money to spend on something that we don’t know is going to work.”
The state transportation department’s study projects that the truck-only lanes would reduce delays on Interstate 75 North by 40 percent.
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