The Port of Savannah
Georgia is home to the busiest airport in the world, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Georgia airports have adequate capacity and over 98 percent of the state’s population lives within 45 minutes of an airport. However, Airport Layout Plans need to be updated and nearly 20% of airports are in need of improvements to meet current safety standards.
Georgia has almost 800 structurally deficient bridges and over 2,000 functionally obsolete bridges. Funding remains nearly constant and is insufficient to address many of the needed upgrades. Following passage of MAP-21 legislation, the state is moving from a “worst first” approach to bridge replacement to an asset management and risk-based replacement approach. This is a step in the right direction.
The issue of dam inspection and maintenance that requires immediate attention. As the number of dams in Georgia continues to grow, regulatory staff is shrinking due to budget cuts. The number of dams per regulatory staff member is five times the national average. The backlog of permits and dam inspections is unacceptably long. This public safety issue requires the Georgia Legislature to step up and fund the Georgia Safe Dams Program.
Water supply is generally adequate, with some shifts in source and capacity needed to accommodate modest growth. Water utilities need to implement and expand asset management programs in order to responsibly steward our drinking water resources. In many cases, rate studies are needed to determine the sustainability of water utility funding. Improvements in workforce development are also needed to recruit qualified staff and keep up with technological advances.
Georgia residents pay lower than average electricity rates. Georgia utilities have shown their long term commitment by investing $14 billion in nuclear expansions at Plant Vogtle, which will help to keep electric power generation capacity above 115% of demand. Georgia needs to continue to use a mix of generation options (clean coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, etc.) and conservation measures to ensure future capacity and low rates to consumers.
Georgia’s parks, like many nationwide, are facing significant shortfalls in meeting maintenance needs and demands for access and services. Funding for parks has shifted from traditional government sources to grants, donations and fees. Parks managers have learned how to do more with less and many volunteer organizations have increased their involvement, resulting in a slight increase to the infrastructure grade. Rising maintenance costs combined with diminished funding are creating an unsustainable condition which should be address by charging appropriate user fees to support on-site maintenance and operations. In addition, land preservation in Georgia is much lower than other states and should be addressed through partnerships with private conservation groups.
Georgia ports are vital to the state economy. They support over 352,000 jobs in the state generating $18.5 billion in personal income. In 2012, over 22 million tons of containerized cargo was handled by Georgia ports, which is equivalent to about 3 million 20-foot containers. The Port of Savannah is the second-largest port for exports in the United States. Federal funding is needed for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which will allow larger, Post-Panamax ships to access the Port. In addition, roadway and rail links will need improvements in order to move the additional cargo to and from the Port.
Georgia depends heavily on rail to convey fuels, chemicals, minerals, farm products, waste, and other essentials. Overall condition of the network is generally good, though state DOT officials should continue to closely monitor short lines to minimize the creation of more abandoned rail lines. Rail carriers need to monitor future demands of the Port of Savannah and Georgia Power to ensure their infrastructure is capable of supporting additional freight volumes.
Although traffic fatalities have been significantly reduced in the last five years, Georgia’s traffic fatality rate is still well above the national average. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funded $932 million in Georgia transportation improvements since the last Report Card, but much more is needed. Metro Atlanta is still congested during peak commuter hours and Atlanta ranks 4th worst in annual freight truck delay, with an estimated congestion cost of $775 million in 2011. Georgia needs to increase funding for roads as we continue to be 49th in the nation in per capita transportation funding.
Public schools in Georgia serve 1.6 million students. Due to state, local and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding and a decrease in the number of schools, Georgia has nearly caught up with demands for new schools. School districts need to closely monitor for population growth to predict the need for new schools. At the same time, school systems need to support existing infrastructure and should focus on leveraging technology to reduce operating costs. New facilities construction should consider life-cycle cost, not just lowest initial construction cost.
On average, each Georgia resident each disposes of over 3.5 pounds of waste per day, which is 25% higher than the national average. Low tipping fees at landfills contribute to a high quantity of out-of-state waste being disposed in Georgia. The Solid Waste Trust Fund needs to be protected by the state legislature so that funds collected are used to address solid waste issues. In 2011, only $722,000 of the $6.4 million collected from tire fees went to support the intended use.
As Georgia’s population continues to grow, so does the importance of effective management of stormwater to protect our water resources. Stormwater structures range from catch basins that drain roads to dams that prevent flooding to retention ponds that improve water quality. The number of stormwater utilities in Georgia has increased to 44. However, most local governments still lack a dedicated funding source to address stormwater infrastructure and water quality issues. Local governments need to provide dedicated funding and implement asset management programs to effectively maintain their stormwater infrastructure.
Metro Atlanta’s current system of multiple transit providers is inefficient, as well as time-consuming and confusing to the users. MARTA is the largest transit agency in the country that is does not receive state funding support for operations. Georgia spent $0.63 per person on public transportation in 2008. In comparison, Illinois spent $40.43 and North Carolina spent $7.94. Collaboration between governments is needed to establish a truly regional, accessible transit system in Georgia.
Georgia has 191 wastewater plants with capacities over 1 million gallons per day. Tightening water quality standards such as instream nutrient level limits will likely require utilities to implement additional treatment processes and technologies. Reducing and eliminating sewer overflows must receive the focused attention of utilities. Also, improving maintenance programs with techniques such as expanded asset management is critical. These challenges underscore the need for workforce development to recruit qualified staff and keep up with advancing technologies.
A: EXCEPTIONAL, B: GOOD, C: MEDIOCRE, D: POOR, F: FAILING
Each category was evaluated on the basis of capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation
99 public-use airports
700 (4.70%) of the 14,835 bridges are structurally deficient
$147,020,030 spent on state bridge capital projects in 2013
Dams with EAPS
11% of the state regulated dams have an Emergency Action Plan
472 high hazard dams
$9.3 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years
257.3 Trillion BTU of renewable energy every year, ranking it 10th
16 sites on the National Priorities List
720 miles of inland waterways, ranking it 14th
21 miles of levees
37.6 million short tons of cargo in 2012, ranking it 22nd nationally
$123 million of unmet needs for its parks system
4,653 miles of freight railroads across the state, ranking 7th nationally
128,134 miles of Public Roads, with 4% in poor condition
$196 per motorist per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repair
168,330,253 annual unlinked passenger trips via transit systems including bus, transit, and commuter trains
$2.7 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs over the next 20 years
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