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Lawmakers Propose Two New Interstate Highways in Georgia

ATLANTA (AP) Lawmakers from Georgia want the U.S. Department of Transportation to look into building two new interstate highways that would cross the state, one from Savannah to Knoxville, TN, and another from Augusta through Macon and Columbus.

Six members of the House delegation from Georgia introduced legislation authored by Rep. Max Burns, while companion legislation was introduced by Sens. Zell Miller and Saxby Chambliss.

The proposed Interstate 3 along the Savannah River could follow the largely completed Savannah River Parkway, while the proposed I-14 likely would follow the Fall Line Freeway, about three-fourths of which is complete or under construction across Georgia’s midsection between Columbus and Augusta.

State officials say $264.3 million is needed to complete the freeway.

Burns, a first-term Republican up for re-election in the fall against Athens lawyer John Barrow, said the interstates could help spur economic growth in some of the state’s poorest counties.

“We’re looking at neglected areas of our state and our region,” said Burns, whose district includes rural counties between Savannah, Augusta and Athens.

The interstates could take a decade to develop. Burns said cost estimates would be part of the DOT study.

Rep. Jim Marshall, D-Macon, a co-sponsor of the Burns bill, said his first priority is getting the Fall Line Freeway completed.

“It would be a huge mistake to delay at all the Fall Line Freeway while we wait to see if this could wind up being an interstate,” said Marshall, who faces Republican Calder Clay in the fall.