- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 10, 2017

ATLANTA (AP) - The Latest on remarks on transportation by Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia House Speaker David Ralston before the Georgia Chamber of Commerce (all times local):

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12:20 p.m.

House Speaker David Ralston says he wants a new state commission to study whether Georgia should devote taxpayer dollars to improving mass transit statewide.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports (https://on-ajc.com/2i9Ndgw ) Ralston told a breakfast of Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that the state “must do more to mitigate road congestion and move freight efficiently.”

The Republican speaker said he will push legislation this year to create the Georgia Commission on Transit Governance and Funding. The commission would study needs for bus systems, commuter trains and freight trains statewide and come up with recommendations for lawmakers.

Ralston said his proposal won’t be a state takeover of locally run transit systems that already exist in 122 Georgia counties. They include Atlanta’s MARTA subway line and municipal bus systems.

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10 a.m.

Gov. Nathan Deal says expansion projects will begin soon on stretches of interstate highway in metro Atlanta and Savannah.

Deal told a breakfast of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday that work to widen portions of Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County and I-16 in Savannah is slated to begin in the 2018 fiscal year that starts July 1.

The projects will add lanes along six-to-seven mile stretches of each interstate. The governor told executives, lobbyists and lawmakers at the chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast that the expansions will significantly reduce traffic congestion along each route.

The road projects are part of a 10-year, $10 billion plan for transportation improvements Deal announced last year. Construction is being funded by increases in gas taxes and fees lawmakers approved in 2015.

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