GDOT Commissioner Russell McMurry

By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA

Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner (GDOT) Russell McMurry, and John Petrino, director of business development and international marketing for the Georgia Ports Authority, closed ARTBA’s 2019 National Convention in Savannah.

McMurry said the state is expected to have the nation’s fifth largest population by 2040. Its economic reach is boosted by several interstate highways.

Georgia is improving its transportation infrastructure investment through several innovative funding mechanisms, he said. These include switching to an indexed excise tax on gas from a sales tax; a $5 per hotel room night fee; electrical vehicle fees; and heavy vehicle fees.

Georgia also allows regional referendums to assess a special sales tax for transportation. If approved, 75 percent of the money is directed to approved county projects, and 25 percent to work in urban areas within that region.

One of Georgia’s upcoming major projects is a new Interstate-16/Interstate 95 interchange. The busy freight corridor serves the state port at Savannah, now the nation’s fourth busiest container port.

Petrino said the port works closely with GDOT, especially on “last mile” projects leading to the waterfront. A daily average of 11,000 trucks enter and exit port property, many on their way to nearby distribution centers. 

“We’ve got to have highway and local road access,” Petrino said. “There are not many major retailers or e-commerce companies that are not using the Port of Savannah.”