As U.S. Roads And Bridges Continue To Age, Georgia Companies, Consumers Will Feel The Effects

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg speaks with East Point Mayor Deana Holiday Ingraham Friday during his visit to Metro Atlanta.

Emil Moffatt/WABE News

Officials shut down the Interstate 40 bridge linking Arkansas and Tennessee earlier this month after a crack was discovered. Some river traffic has begun flowing again, but it could be months before the cracked bridge is re-opened to cars and trucks.

Despite the bridge being hundreds of miles away from Metro Atlanta, Georgia companies and consumers are likely feeling the effects.

Companies who rely on I-40 or the Mississippi River to move goods back and forth across the country are being forced to consider alternate routes. That’s according to Pervinder Johar, CEO of the logistics company Blume Global, which is based in the Bay Area but has a presence in Atlanta. He says the repercussions are two-fold.

“What does it really mean for moving things into Georgia or out of Georgia?” Johar said. “And the second is of course the impact on the Port of Savannah,”

“There are many companies that are headquartered in Atlanta which are large shippers, large producers of goods,” he said. “The warehousing and distribution network is also very strong in Georgia. It’s a critical link from many perspectives and sometimes people usually find out how critical the link is, only when there’s a disruption.”

Johar says the bridge closure and impact on the Mississippi River, could mean more companies choosing to use Georgia ports. He also says companies that export goods may experience a glut of supplies, while there also may be a shortage of imported goods in the state.

He says there’s no way to predict disruptions caused by weather. But aging infrastructure, he says, is beginning to make interruptions more common.

“Some of these that look like they’re foreseeable, let’s make sure we are working on fixing those issues before they happen,” he said.

Johar says without more inspections and preventative maintenance, it’s only a matter of time before the supply chain is interrupted again.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg visited Atlanta on Friday and met with local leaders to discuss their infrastructure needs. The American Rescue Plan begins to address some of these issues, but the White House is hoping to dedicate more money to update highways, roads and bridges.

“This isn’t just a stimulus plan designed to get us through this year, this is about making sure that we’re looking back in the 2040s on what we did in the early 2020s, we say ‘Okay, this is how we set up America to win the future one community at a time,’” said Buttigieg