Thursday, November 11, 2004

New Interstates Wanted For Georgia, Southeast

With all the political rhetoric the last few months, this seems to have been somewhat under-reported. Elected officials across the Southeast are pushing for the construction of new Interstate highways, and some of the biggest proposals would have huge effects of Georgia.

Interstate 14
This route might have the greatest likelihood of actually being constructed. Connecting Natchez, Mississippi with Augusta, Georgia, the route would pass through the southern parts of Alabama and Mississippi, entering Georgia at Columbus, and passing just south of Macon on it's way to Augusta. Rep. Max Burns from Georgia, supported by nearly a dozen other Representatives from the three states, introduced House Resolution 4925, authorizing the construction. Companion legislation was intorduced in the Senate by Georgia Senators Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss. The route is referred to as the "14th Amendment Highway", in honor of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for equal rights to all persons in the United States. It also has strong support from Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott.

Interstate 3
Proposed in the same legislation as Interstate 14, this route would connect Savannah, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee by way of Augusta and Toccoa, Georgia, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina. It's route number, which doesn't fit into the Interstate Highway numbering scheme, is in honor of Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division. The highway would connect Fort Gordon, Eisenhower Army Regional Medical Center, the Augusta Veterans Administration Hospitals, Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and the Port of Savannah. The route through the mountains of North Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee would be very contentious, and could be the main sticking point in the approval process.

There has also been talk of an extension of Interstate 16 from Macon to Columbus, as part of a National Highway System High Priority Corridor. That seems unlikely, given the construction of the Fall Line Freeway, which is nearly complete between I-75 (at Byron) and Columbus.

It'll be interesting to see if these routes ever actually get built...