The world of transportation is being altered by three sweeping changes: technology, policy, and politics.
As these three transform the transportation landscape in Georgia, the state will have to reconsider how it funds transportation infrastructure going forward.
One important technology is electric propulsion. Recent media reports discussed the siting of SK Innovation’s new electric vehicle (EV) battery manufacturing facility near Commerce, which will make Georgia one of the world’s largest hubs of EV battery manufacturing and “will account for nearly half of our nation’s vitally needed non-captive EV batteries,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp announced in March 2021.
The massive hub is expected to draw more EV-related industries to Georgia. Along with a “green” policy push toward EVs from the Biden administration, it is likely to fuel a growing interest in electric vehicle use on Georgia roads and highways.
One challenge this presents is that roads in Georgia and across the nation are largely funded by per-gallon fuel taxes.
As technology produces more fuel-efficient vehicles and non-petroleum-fueled vehicles (such as EVs), this reduces the fuel tax revenue that policymakers depend on to pay for roads, bridges, and supporting technology such as electronic toll collection.
The revenue reduction is starting to take place despite increases in vehicle-miles traveled (VMT), population, and the costs of surface transportation infrastructure. Therefore, policymakers must investigate alternatives to fuel taxes for funding Georgia roadways.