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Trump touts plan to speed infrastructure projects in Atlanta

Tamar Hallerman and Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Political News

"You've done a great job in every aspect of running this incredible state, and I've always been there for you," Trump told the governor, before teasing him for calling too much.

The president's visit came as recent polls showed him neck-and-neck with Democratic rival Joe Biden in Georgia. Earlier Wednesday, Biden criticized the Republican's "complete and utter failure" to lead the country and combat the spread of the coronavirus.

"This administration's mismanagement has left working families and small business owners out in the cold as they endure the worst economic losses the country has faced in modern memory," Biden said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the White House highlighted the effect changes to the National Environmental Policy Act would have on a major infrastructure project pending in Georgia: the $2 billion expansion of I-75. A 2017 state audit questioned whether the project, which would add truck lanes along the busy corridor between McDonough and Macon, was needed in the first place, but proponents say it would speed traffic to and from the Port of Savannah.

Environmentalists view the related project to deepen the harbor in Savannah from 42 to 47 feet as an example of the success of the current environmental process.

The dredging work would have threatened nearby wetlands, harmed local drinking water and imperiled local sturgeon, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. But a deal was eventually struck to secure water quality monitoring and preserve wetlands.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, whose Savannah-based House district included the port, saw things differently. He said environmental groups "used and abused" the process to drag out the project's timeline based on details and technicalities.

 

"It just took forever," said Kingston, a Trump surrogate who since leaving Congress has lobbied on behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority. "Every time we came up with something that everybody had previously agreed on, they would change their mind and want something else."

Trump blasted those delays in his speech before boasting about his administration's approval of new funding for dredging.

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