If you talk to anyone who has traveled outside Georgia this summer, especially traveling north on I-95, you may hear them say how much better Georgia’s highways are than other states. Well, it turns out, this anecdote is actually true. Georgia gets good grades for all transportation in several listings over the past months.
CNBC ranks Georgia 5th
This ranking comes as part of the ranking CNBC does yearly on the “Top States for Business”, a ranking that Georgia has placed first in some years. Transportation plays a key role in this business friendly ranking and Georgia’s continued investment in infrastructure appears to be paying off.
This ranking is not just a feel good listing of how well everyone is doing. There are some states in dire straits. Advocates actually use the rankings to show how much new investment is needed. Nationwide, needs now total $2 trillion dollars. Here’s what CNBC has to say about Georgia’s transportation infrastructure:
2019 Infrastructure Score: 221 out of 350 points (Georgia Grade A-)
U.S. Population within 500 miles: 76,325,931
Average Commute to work: 28 minutes
Bridges in poor condition: 3.3% (A very low number)
Roads in Unacceptable Condition: 8.2% (Also very low- See below)
20-year Water System Needs: $12.5 Billion
investment in infrastructure
It is obvious from the scores above and others we will review below that many states are not investing in improving and maintaining infrastructure, a key component in attracting and building business in a state.
Georgia made a huge move in 2015 with the passage in the Legislature of HB 170 which revamps Georgia’s tax on fuel and changed the fuel tax portion to a by the gallon excise tax. The bill also added an impact fee and a hotel/motel fee. Altogether the new funds have added about $1 billion new dollars to Georgia’s funding of roads in the state and made possible many new and expansive projects to relieve congestion and move traffic, including business traffic.
Investment not just in highways
Additionally, the state has invested heavily in improving Georgia’s ports, so far financing over $300 million for the port deepening in Savannah. Also, the state just finished three straight years of $100 million per year in bonds to repair bridges around the state, a total of $300 million.
In the FY 2020 budget, the Legislature added a $35 million package to improve the state-owned rail lines that are mostly in rural Georgia.
Of course, Georgia is home to the world’s busiest airport, a central part of Georgia’s successful business recruitment efforts. In addition, the state has been investing in regional airports. A package of improvements totaling $25.9 million was funded in 2018.
Other nationwide lists rank
Georgia at the top in the south
In U.S. News and World Report “Best States for Infrastructure” published this year, Georgia ranks 17th overall, 10th in Infrastructure, and 9th in Fiscal Stability and Total Economy. Georgia’s overall ranking is the highest in the Southeast except for Florida.
‘Transportation for America’ repair report ranks Georgia tops
The respected Transportation for America Report lists states’ deteriorating conditions and lists the percentage in Poor, Fair and Good Condition. The Report points out that the condition of roads in poor condition nationwide deteriorated from 14 to 20% between 2009 and 2017.
Again, Georgia ranked at the top of states nationwide and in the South, showing only 5% of roads being in poor condition compared to Kentucky, 10%, Louisiana, 25%, Florida, 8%, Alabama, 14%, Mississippi, 30%, North Carolina, 13%, South Carolina, 18% and Tennessee, 5% as well.
Only 5 other states nationwide had as high an average of roads in good condition as Georgia has at 64%.
Annual highway report ranks
Georgia high in roads and bridges
The Reason Foundation puts out an Annual State by State Highway Report. Georgia ranks 18th overall in highway performance and cost-effectiveness. The 23rd edition uses 2015 data.
Georgia’s best rankings were 7th in rural arterial pavement condition, 9th in deficient bridges and 15th in maintenance disbursements per mile. Georgia has the nation’s 10th largest highway system.
So who has the worst?
“24/7 Wall Street” produces content for USA Today and published a report last year ranking states infrastructure spending under the title “Infrastructure Spending: Which State is Falling Apart Worst?”
Georgia again came in at the very bottom of the “Worst” list, coming in at 49th. The five worst states were Rhode Island, Hawaii, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and California. The worst southern state was Louisiana with North Carolina right behind. Mississippi was 25th and South Carolina was 33rd worst.
Bottom line – Georgia spending
to continue improvements
Of course there are areas of infrastructure where Georgia needs to improve. No one is arguing that Atlanta does not have a traffic problem or that truck traffic is not a growing problem in many parts of the state. What should be recognized, though, is that the state has put a funding mechanism in place and real work and progress are being made.