CHATTANOOGA (Times Free Press) - Georgia's House speaker says leaders from his state need to sit down with Tennessee officials and discuss trading transportation enhancements for access to the water in the Tennessee River.

During a recent radio interview with WABE-FM in Atlanta, Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said his state might be willing to offer improved rail, roads or other links between Chattanooga and Georgia air and sea ports in exchange for access to the river.

"It would seem to me that if Georgia and Tennessee are willing to sort of think outside of the box and think long term here, then we can have a discussion about addressing some of the transportation needs that that part of Tennessee may have as well as addressing the water needs of Georgia," Ralston told the radio station. "That's a discussion that would be an exciting and interesting one to have."

During the radio interview, Ralston would not set a timetable for such meetings, but he said Monday he'd like for policymakers from the neighboring states to sit down "maybe later this year."

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