MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A plan for a highway that would connect Macon to the western half of the state is in the works. Not only would it relieve traffic congestion on major interstates, but it would also bring more economic development to our area.
The City of Macon's location is ideal. It is connected to major interstates on three sides: I-75 to the north and south and I-16 to the east. All it is missing is a direct line to the west. That is why Macon Mayor Robert Reichert supports the idea of the Georgia Export/Import Highway that would connect the "Song and the Soul of the South" to LaGrange.
"It's mutually beneficial. It helps the LaGrange, Thomaston, west Georgia area but it also helps us promote this idea of this transportation and logistics hub here in Macon," Reichert said.
The Georgia Department of Transportation predicts truck traffic on I-75 will triple by 2015. The deepening of the Savannah port will put even more trucks on the interstates. The Three Rivers Regional Commission says this proposed four-lane highway would help relieve congestion around the Atlanta area as well as provide the only direct east-west connection between Savannah and LaGrange.
"The main thing would be to open up the Georgia port to the western part of the state of Georgia and also to allow west Georgia to ship exportable products through Macon to the Savannah port," Lanier Boatwright, the executive director of the Three Rivers Regional Commission, said.
Boatwright says the highway will create more than 2,000 jobs, pump $11 million into the local economy every year, and form more highway connections throughout the state.
"If this can connect to U.S. 27 which is four-laned up and down the state of Georgia, it'll open up the Georgia port from Tennessee to the Florida line," Boatwright said.
Supporters call it a project where everybody wins.
To be clear, the project is still in the early stages. The Three Rivers Regional Commission is asking GDOT to conduct a corridor study to determine the best route and how much it would cost.
Stay with 41NBC for updates on this proposed highway.