The concept of Interstate 3 (and companion Interstate 14/14th Amendment Highway) was originally proposed by Republican Representative Max Burns from Georgia. A planned “Route Initiation Act” was authored by Rep. Burns in July 2004 for the 108th Congress that would authorize a study of the planned Interstate 14 corridor:
To require a study and report regarding the construction and designation of a new interstate from Savannah, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee.” This act is known as the “Interstate 3/3rd Infantry Division Highway Initiation Act of 2004.
According to the act, the Interstate highway is necessary for several reasons, including (1) linking defensive installations across the South, including Fort Gordon, Eisenhower Army Regional Medical Center, the Augusta Veterans Administration Hospitals, Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield, and the Port of Savannah,
which is in the strategic defense interest of the Nation.
(2) In addition, economic benefit would be achieved through this new Interstate highway because
East Georgia, Western North Carolina, and the Great Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee are underserved by north-south interstate highways, and [these regions] would benefit economically and through increased public safety by establishment of an interstate highway.
Finally, this highway would honor the sacrifice of the United States Army 3rd Infantry Division, which was involved with various events in the Iraq War, including taking over Najaf, seizing Saddam International Airport and Saddam Hussein’s palaces, and fighting on the day of Baghdad’s “liberation.”4
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives by six members of Georgia’s delegation in late July; the legislation was written by Representative Burns. Companion legislation for Interstates 14 and 3 was filed in the Senate by Georgia Democrat Zell Miller and Georgia Republican Saxby Chambliss.1 The bill is assigned the designation H.R. 4925 and was introduced on July 22, 2004.6 The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to study the two proposed Interstate routes and present options for construction to Congress by December 31, 2004.
On November 2, 2004, Representative Max Burns was defeated by Democrat John Barrow. Due to the extensive, bipartisan support of the freeway, it was thought that new Representative Barrow was likely to lobby just as hard for the road as Burns did. Changes to the corridor were possible, especially since Barrow was from Sylvania in Screven County (along the proposed I-3) and Barrow is from Athens, which is not along the originally envisioned Interstate 3 corridor. Athens does not currently have a main interstate link through it, although U.S. 78 passes through the city. Georgia 316 is a four-lane parkway from Interstate 85 in Gwinnett County near Atlanta.3 As of March 2004, plans called for the conversion of Georgia 316 into an upgraded toll freeway complete with interchanges and HOV lanes.5 Some at-grade intersections along Georgia 316 were replaced with interchanges over the ensuing time period, but as of 2018, the bulk of the route remains an at-grade highway.
On August 10, 2005, the legislation to study the Interstate 3 corridor was signed into law by President George W. Bush as part of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act of 2005: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). However, the I-3 designation was not written into law. Text from Section 1927 of SAFETEA-LU:
SEC. 1927. 14TH AMENDMENT HIGHWAY AND 3RD INFANTRY DIVISION HIGHWAY.
Not later than December 31, 2005, any funds made available to commission studies and reports regarding construction of a route linking Augusta, Georgia, Macon, Georgia, Columbus, Georgia, Montgomery, Alabama, and Natchez, Mississippi and a route linking through Savannah, Georgia, Augusta, Georgia, and Knoxville, Tennessee, shall be provided to the Secretary to-
- carry out a study and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to construct a route for the 14th Amendment Highway, from Augusta, Georgia, to Natchez, Mississippi (formerly designated the Fall Line Freeway in the State of Georgia); and
- carry out a study and submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a report that describes the steps and estimated funding necessary to designate and construct a route for the 3rd Infantry Division Highway, extending from Savannah, Georgia, to Knoxville, Tennessee, by way of Augusta, Georgia (formerly the Savannah River Parkway in the State of Georgia).
Completion of the route would be costly. It was anticipated that Congressional support would bring needed funding to the project. The Savannah River Parkway (Georgia 555 and Georgia 565), which follows the Interstate 3 corridor between Savannah and Augusta, was mostly upgraded to expressway standards. Further upgrades of the corridor to Interstate standards did not take place, and plans for potential I-3 remain unlikely as of 2018.