Is a transportation tax good for Southwest Georgia? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Is a transportation tax good for Southwest Georgia?

Four-laning Highway 133 all the way from Albany to Valdosta, it's a plan that's been in the works for years, but the state hasn't come up with the money to do it. 

"Everywhere we go in Georgia people talk about the lack of transportation funding and the problems that we have. So we're talking to leaders here about how we plan to be a partner with them if they pass the regional transportation tax next year," said Clark.

Georgia Chamber President and CEO Chris Clark says that transportation tax is the key to solving those funding problems.

If voters approve paying an extra penny in sales tax, the money raised in 14 area counties would pay for road projects in those counties, including highway 133.

"Look at what states around us have done and built their infrastructure, they're passing us in some categories now. So we don't have much of an option. This is an economical development issue," said Clark.

Clark knows the tax isn't very popular at a time when the economy is suffering and jobs are hard to come by, but he thinks it will give Southwest Georgia the boost it needs.

"I would hate to see other parts of Georgia pass this regional sales tax, improve their infrastructure and become more competitive for the jobs you really want in this part of the state," said Clark.

Officials say the 133 project would help the marine base by making it easier to ship equipment in and out of the base.

Clark says the base is too important to the community not to pass the tax.

"What happens there at the marine logistics base is vitally important. It's an economic engine and we have to make sure we keep that base here," said Clark.

Clark says he's optimistic about growth in Southwest Georgia. He wants leaders to work together to break down barriers that stand in the way.

That transportation sales tax will be on the ballot next July.

 

Copyright 2011 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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