Haslam Willing to Deal With Georgia on River Water?

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s spokeswoman Yvette Martinez indicated Thursday the governor would not summarily reject overtures from Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal that the two states work out a trade of Volunteer State water for Peachtree State transportation improvements.
More from Action Andy Sher’s report:
“We are relying on our [environmental] experts … to continue to monitor the issue in terms of what is in the best interest of Tennessee,” Martinez said by email. “Governor Haslam has said that he is open to sitting down and discussing the issue with Governor Deal.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Haslam seemingly threw a wet blanket on the idea, which was first floated by Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, who said Georgia officials would be interested in swapping better access to Hartsfield-Jackson International and Savannah’s port to exchange for Tennessee water.
“I think that was one legislator who presented that idea,” Haslam said. “I haven’t heard that from the governor of Georgia at all, who I do see and talk to on a fairly regular basis. And he hasn’t ever mentioned it to me.”
In a radio interview this week, Deal said he was interested in discussing the water/transportation trade.
“Rapid rail access from Atlanta to the Chattanooga airport is of great interest to the people of Tennessee,” Deal told the station. “Sometimes there are things we’re interested in and things they’re interested in, and if we can negotiate some agreements in the future, that would probably be very good.”
It was unclear exactly what Deal is suggesting with regard to rapid rail access and Deal’s press office had no immediate response to questions about what the governor’s specific proposals. The two states have long discussed developing high-speed rail connections between Chattanooga and Atlanta, initially estimated at about $4 billion. But a number of states have moved ahead of Tennessee and Georgia in planning and qualifying for federal dollars aimed to promoting high-speed rail.

Leave a Reply