As a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the former senior Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee's Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I know the importance of investment in transportation and infrastructure for our state. Maintaining and expanding current infrastructure leads to job creation for Georgia, both in infrastructure construction jobs and the jobs increased in reliable capacity brings to our state.
Our state's population is expected to grow by almost 45 percent between now and 2030, making it the eighth fastest growing state and the eighth most populous state in the nation. Meeting these increased demands on our infrastructure will require a collective effort on the federal, state and local level to ensure that we have an efficient and effective transportation and infrastructure system in Georgia.
Highways and Transit
In May 2005, I was selected by Senate leadership to participate in the committee that crafted a compromise on the comprehensive reauthorization of our nation's highway and transit programs, also known as SAFETEA-LU. In my capacity as a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, I secured over $250 billion in funding for Georgia's roads and transit agencies to ensure that we reduce congestion while also providing transit alternatives for commuters.
SAFETEA-LU was critical to the state of Georgia, because it provided our state with the tools necessary to improve and expand its surface transportation infrastructure to meet the demands of a growing population.
From January 2007 to January 2009, I served as the senior Republican on the Senate Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure. In January 2009, I joined the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and I serve on its Surface Transportation Subcommittee.
While I am proud of the work I have done to expand the highways and transit capacity in Georgia, there is still much to do. We must work to reform the federal funding mechanism for our highways and roads so that the funding shortfalls our state DOT has experienced never happen again. We must also continue to expand our transit systems to reduce commuter congestion and provide mass transit alternatives for Georgia residents. I am glad Georgia will have a seat at the table when these critical issues come up in the Senate.
Ports and Maritime
As a member of the Senate Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure Subcommittee and the former senior Republican on EPW's Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, I have worked tirelessly on behalf of Georgia's ports. The ports of Savannah, Brunswick, Bainbridge and Columbus are critical access points for the seamless flow of commerce and goods between our state and the global marketplace.
I have led efforts with my colleagues to ensure that the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, also known as SHEP, stays on track. With the widening of the Panama Canal to allow bigger cargo ships to pass through, the expansion of the Savannah Harbor is one of the most important projects to our entire state and critical to Georgia's economic future. The expansion of this port's infrastructure is essential to helping the Port of Savannah maintain its position as a gateway for business to Georgia.
I also tirelessly worked to secure funding for the deepening of the Brunswick Harbor. This funding allowed the dredging of the full channel entrance to 400 feet wide and 36 feet deep, letting the port accommodate larger cargo vessels and attract new business. Brunswick is the leading harbor for the import and export of vehicles in to and out of our country.
I will continue to work to enhance our port infrastructure so that Georgia will continue to be a leading trading partner for the world.
I am pleased to serve on the Senate Subcommittee on Aviation. As home to the world's busiest airport, the world's largest airline and numerous general aviation manufacturers and airports, Georgia is a leader in the global aviation community.
I led the effort to secure authorization and funding to build a fifth runway at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. This increased capacity ensures that the airport has the ability to grow and to continue to be the world's premiere international hub and gateway.
I've also worked to secure authorization and funding for the construction of new general aviation airports in Paulding and Liberty counties. I am pleased we are providing an economic engine to these communities to help them grow and attract new industry.
I will continue to work to ensure that our aviation infrastructure has the resources it needs to be able to meet the air traffic challenges of the 21st century. I believe the Federal Aviation Administration should implement Next Generation Air Traffic Management System to reduce delays, increase safety and save fuel. I also will work to ensure that consumers have a robust and competitive airline industry.
As a member of the Senate Surface Transportation Subcommittee, I believe passenger and freight rail are key components of our nation's infrastructure. Passenger and freight rail provide an energy efficient solution to move people and goods over distances both long and short.
I have advocated for the creation of a high speed rail line from Birmingham to Atlanta to Washington with stops at points in between. Unlike AMTRAK, I believe that this passenger rail line should be privately operated on publicly funded infrastructure. Private operation will lead to a competitive and efficient industry. I believe that such a line would significantly reduce congestion on the I-85 corridor.
I have also worked to reform AMTRAK so that it meets certain financial performance goals instead of having taxpayers subsidize its losses. The federal government should provide rail infrastructure, but should not operate trains.
I also believe we should work to increase and enhance freight rail infrastructure. Freight rail can move one ton of goods 436 miles on one gallon of diesel fuel. Freight rail is a critical component in our nation's commerce system.
We must make investments in freight and passenger rail infrastructure to fully realize its potential in the future. As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I will work to ensure that we expand our rail infrastructure.