Georgia Ports Authority Invests In Rail To Compete | WABE 90.1 FM

Georgia Ports Authority Invests In Rail To Compete

Jan 3, 2017

The Georgia Ports Authority says one of its top priorities this year is building what it calls the "Mid-American Arc."

The Port of Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to an arc of inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, to St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley. Key to expanding rail service is a $128 million project linking the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards.
Credit Courtesy of the Georgia Ports Authority

It's a $128 million project that would connect the CSX and Norfolk Southern rail yards leaving the Port of Savannah.

The arc project will double rail capacity in Savannah and improve its link to Atlanta and cities in the Midwest.

"If you're moving big heavy stuff and you're moving it around the world, it's hard to beat the efficiency of these large ships,” said Robert Puentes, president of the Eno Center for Transportation in Washington, D.C .

But, on land, what's even more efficient and cheaper than a cargo ship? Trains.

That's according to Bill Stankiewicz, president of Savannah Supply Chain, a transportation consulting group.

He said this rail project gives the Port of Savannah a competitive edge and will be a game changer for his clients.  

"You're able to handle these larger ships in a very timely basis and to get that product out into the marketplace versus having additional congestion on the roads," Stankiewicz said.

Rail Investment

That's why Georgia Ports Authority is spending millions investing in rail. The Mid-American Arc project will improve connections at the Port of Savannah and allow for the construction of 10,000-foot long trains, about 50 percent longer than your average freight train.

The project is funded in part by a $44 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. 

Georgia Ports Authority executive director Griff Lynch says this will mean it can move goods from ships that arrive in Savannah to places like Atlanta even faster.

The Port of Savannah is poised to rapidly increase service to an arc of inland markets, from Atlanta to Memphis, to St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley.
Credit Courtesy of the Georgia Ports Authority

"We are going to connect in a better way to Atlanta with rail and also to points like Memphis and Chicago, St. Louis and the Ohio Valley and as a result we will drive our exports and our imports up," Lynch said.

The project is expected to be complete by 2019.

Another project that will mean fewer trucks on Atlanta roads? The Appalachian Regional Port, which is expected to open next year. It's a 388-mile rail connection from the Port of Savannah to Northwest Georgia's Murray County.

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