October 12, 2017

Georgia to build third inland port in state's Northeast region

New facility to join Cordele, Chatsworth.

By Mark B. Solomon

The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), which operates the container port of Savannah and the roll-on, roll-off and breakbulk port of Brunswick, plans to build a third inland port in northeast Georgia to join Cordele in the state's south-central region and Chatsworth in its northwest corner.

Griff Lynch, GPA's executive director, disclosed the expansion in a recent interview with **ital{DC Velocity}. No location or timetable for construction has been determined, said Robert Morris, a GPA spokesman.

Inland ports have grown in popularity in recent years as a cost-effective rail-intermodal alternative to trucks in connecting with key seaports. The Chatsworth facility, to open in the fall of 2018 and be operated in conjunction with eastern railroad CSX, will reduce the need for northwest Georgia shippers to route exports bound for Savannah, located in the state's southeast corner, through metro Atlanta by truck. GPA estimates the inland port will reduce Atlanta truck traffic by 50,000 trips per year and expand the port authority's reach into Tennessee, northeast Alabama, and parts of Kentucky.

Chatsworth is expected to open with an annual capacity of 50,000 containers. Container capacity at Chatsworth is expected to double by 2028, according to GPA estimates. The Cordele facility, located about an hour's drive south of Macon and 100 miles north of the Florida line, opened in 2013.

State officials have said they plan to expand GPA's inland port infrastructure, with the goal of developing the largest intermodal complex in the eastern third of the U.S. GPA is in the midst of a multi-year, multi-modal initiative designed to efficiently accommodate the movement of cargo volumes, which are projected to expand as larger container vessels call at U.S. ports.

Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal in June 2016, the percentage of the fleet calling at Savannah composed of "neo-Panamax ships"—vessels with maximum capacity of 13,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers--has risen to 60 percent from 42 percent, according to GPA figures. The original Canal could only accommodate ships with 5,500-TEU capacity.

In a related development, GPA officials said today that Noble House Home Furnishings LLC, a Chatsworth, Calif.-based furniture supplier, and Best Choice Products, an Irvine, Calif.-based home accessories company, will each build e-commerce distribution centers at Savannah. The combined facilities will total 975,000 square feet.

The new facilities, along with 5.2 million square feet of industrial space under construction, brings Savannah's DC inventory footprint to more than 57 million square feet. Currently, only 2 percent of that total is available, GPA said.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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