At its July board meeting, the Georgia Ports Authority approved a spending package of $19.7 million to construct the Appalachian Regional Port in Chatsworth.
The funds consist of $10 million from the state and $9.7 million from the GPA. In addition, CSX is making off-site improvements to facilitate the new inland port. Murray County purchased the land at a cost of $700,000 and deeded the site to GPA. For the land purchase, $500,000 came from a state economic development grant and $200,000 from the Murray County Economic Development Authority.
“We would like to thank our Board of Directors, Governor Deal, the state of Georgia, Murray County and CSX Transportation for making this incredible partnership possible,” said Executive Director Griff Lynch. “The Appalachian Regional Port will create a new gateway to the Port of Savannah for our customers serving Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and beyond. We estimate the ARP will offset more than 350 truck miles per container, or close to 18 million miles every year.”
The new inland terminal is the second for the GPA and part of the “Network Georgia” program designed to create inland terminals throughout the state to reduce intermodal truck traffic and provide greater rail capacity to the Southeast U.S. and beyond.
The inland terminal in Chatsworth will be approximately 40 acres and be operated using highly efficient rubber-tired gantry cranes to move cargo to and from CSX trains. GPA expects construction to be complete in late summer, 2018.
“The GPA, the state of Georgia and our partners in the private sector are very focused on rail and road connections to and from our ports,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “Establishing these inland terminals will extend our rail advantage into a multi-state region, ease highway traffic congestion, and prepare Georgia’s ports for a new era of growth.”
Also at the meeting Monday, Lynch reported the GPA moved 30.8 million tons of cargo and 3.6 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2016. It is the second straight year that TEU volumes topped 3.6 million. Despite a decrease of 1.3 percent in containers for FY16, combined annual TEU growth for FY15-16 reached 15.4 percent.
“Overall, FY16 container volumes exceeded expectations due to inflated market share associated with last year’s West Coast cargo diversions,” Lynch said. “When our new customers experienced the seamless connection between Georgia’s ports, rail and roads, they decided to grow their business here. This coming year we will be focused on increasing our capacity, expanding our reach into new markets and providing superior supply chain solutions for our customers.”
GPA estimates that 24 percent of the approximately 320,000 TEUs diverted to the Port of Savannah over fiscal year 2015, or more than 75,000 TEUs, was retained by the Authority.
“Georgia’s deepwater ports are a powerful magnet for new business,” said Allgood.”Thousands of manufacturing and logistics companies are already capitalizing on the competitive advantages offered by the ports of Savannah and Brunswick. As our retention of the diverted cargo shows, potential customers continue to choose Georgia when they learn of the savings in time and money that we provide.”
The Authority also approved $4.3 million to upgrade electrical power for GPA’s growing fleet of neo-Panamax Ship to Shore (STS) cranes. By the end of 2017, eight additional STS cranes will be added, bringing the total number of cranes to 30, more than any terminal in the U.S.