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Lagrange-Macon corridor could impact Lamar

A multi-lane highway connecting I-85 near La-Grange to I-75 near Macon, identified in a Georgia Department of Transportation 2010-2050 Statewide Freight Study as the highest performing potential urban bypass project for Georgia, is gaining support among industry and political leaders as a project that needs to be fasttracked as an economic benefit to the entire state. Potentially feasible bypass routes being considered pass through Bibb, Monroe, Lamar, Upson and Pike counties, according to a DOT map on page 17 of the freight study. Another route on georgiasexportimporthighway. com shows the corridor bypassing Lamar and all but a corner of Pike County. This appears to be a route proposed several years ago that ran along Highway 74. The current project is expected to provide the best return on investment of all statewide highway corridor projects, generating a return of $18 to Georgia for every dollar invested. A coalition of regional commissions, local governments and other leaders across Middle Georgia are launching a campaign to raise awareness of the importance and need of a proposed LaGrange to Macon highway and freight corridor. Proponents call it Georgia’s Export/Import Highway and experts say the corridor will generate an annual economic impact of $11.3 billion and the potential creation of 2,738 new jobs for Georgia while helping ease future traffic woes in Metro Atlanta. Several bypass alternatives were analyzed. A Chattanooga bypass and the Macon-LaGrange improvement were found to have the highest potential return on investment to the state. The Macon-LaGrange route was found to also have significant benefits for east-west traffic moving through the state. This would include traffic moving between Savannah, Macon and Augusta to Alabama or points further west. As the port of Savannah races to deepen its harbors to make room for super-sized cargo ships expected to begin arriving via an expanded Panama Canal in 2015, officials say the highway becomes even more important. It will provide the only direct east-west connection between the port and major West Central Georgia importers and exporters such as KIA Motors America and its suppliers in West Point.

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