By Kristina Torres
Georgia's big plan to invest billions of dollars in new road projects may be about to get a giant thumbs up after Gov. Nathan Deal said preliminary results from an independent review show the effort could boost the state's economy and reduce traffic delays.
Although a final report by Massachusetts-based Cambridge Systematics Inc. is not scheduled for release until later this month, Deal said Wednesday that he expects the report to confirm "what we've been saying all along -- that these projects will move the needle when it comes to driver and freight mobility."
The firm analyzed 11 planned projects the state expects to complete over the next decade, including widening I-85, widening I-16 and adding truck lanes to I-75. The state is paying for the projects after the state Legislature passed a sweeping transportation funding bill last year that provides about $900 million annually for road and bridge improvements statewide.
According to the firm, preliminary findings show the projects would collectively reduce traffic delays by 5 percent across Georgia's transportation network. They could also boost the state's economy. The firm said by one measure, the projects could grow the economy by as much as $2 billion.
Deal's comments come about a month before Georgia's May 24 primary election. The Legislature's decision to pass tax hikes to fund the projects have become a hot issue in some legislative races.
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