Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gas Tax Hike Pushed as Crucial to State's Future; Several Groups Sounding Call for More Funds for Transportation Projects

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Gas Tax Hike Pushed as Crucial to State's Future; Several Groups Sounding Call for More Funds for Transportation Projects

Article excerpt

Byline: Erica Techo

ATLANTA | A rise in the gas tax is necessary to improve Georgia's infrastructure, according to the state Department of Transportation. At a press conference Tuesday, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recommended a federal gas tax hike of 10 cents per gallon and automatic increases tied to the cost of living.

"If that had been done two decades ago, in 1993 when the gas tax was last raised, we probably wouldn't be having this debate," he said. "But raising the gas tax is absolutely critical to the future of Georgia."

LaHood isn't the only one sounding the call for higher taxes for transportation. The Georgia Transportation Alliance sponsored his visit to Georgia. It's a branch of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce made up of transportation-related businesses. The campaign, which supports a boost in the state gas tax as well, is also supported by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia.

"I feel confident that I can tell you that the Georgia business community will be there to support you," said Steve Green, a Savannah developer and former Chamber chair.

Raising the tax can fund better infrastructure and bring more jobs to Georgia, LaHood said. In order to attract companies, different types of transportation - including street cars, rail lines and bus systems - should be offered. Improved infrastructure creates "economic corridors," where businesses will build.

LaHood identified Interstate highways and the Savannah Port as examples. Restaurants, office buildings and factories have built up around interstates and brought more jobs to those areas, and the port has created nearly 300,000 jobs across the state.

"Four years ago, no one was even talking about the Savannah Port until the governor, a Republican, and the Democratic mayor from Atlanta began talking about it, working on a plan," he said. …

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