The executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA), which operates the container port of Savannah and the roll-on, roll-off and breakbulk port of Brunswick, hinted today at the development of more additional inland ports across the state to join Cordele in the state's south-central region and Chatsworth, which officially opened today, in its northwest corner.
The comments by Griff Lynch, made at ribbon-cutting ceremonies at the new facility, called the "Appalachian Regional Port"(ARP), reflect GPAs strong belief in the inland port model as a way to connect manufacturers in a four-state cluster—Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky--with the seaport through the use of a dedicated train.
Lynch said in an interview last October that GPA is eyeing the state's northeast region—which runs into the mountain ranges that link Georgia, North and South Carolina—as the location for the terminal. Though Lynch didn't specify a number, his remarks implied that the state was looking to go beyond three inland ports. "More are coming," Robert Morris, a GPA spokesman, said late today. He did not elaborate
State officials 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. GPA does not operate the Cordele facility.
The 388-mile Chatsworth line, operated by eastern railroad CSX Transportation, connects the facility with Savannah's Garden City Terminal, the effective entry and exit point for cargo owners. Trains will operate every other day.
The Chatsworth facility can currently handle up to 50,000 boxes a year, and there are plans to double that capacity over the next 10 years. Morris said the facility is projected to handle about 25,000 containers in its first 12 months of operation.
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.
Another benefit of Chatsworth, and potentially other inland ports, is that it provides the region's businesses with access to Savannah—located in Georgia's southeast corner--without having to truck their goods through heavily congested metro Atlanta. GPA estimates the inland port will reduce truck traffic by 50,000 trips per year; each round-trip container moved on the ARP will offset 710 truck miles on Georgia roads, officials said.
The facility opened two months ahead of schedule. Japanese heavy-equipment maker Komatsu Ltd. was the first customer, unloading goods from the CSX train. The 3 huge cranes were painted red, white and blue in the image of the American flag.