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Georgia Ports Authority to build new inland rail terminal

The Georgia Ports Authority Board has approved a US$127 million investment for the construction of the Blue Ridge Connector, an inland rail terminal located in Gainesville, Georgia.

This terminal is set to establish a link between Northeast Georgia and the Port of Savannah, having access to the port's extensive network of 35 global container line services. Expected to be operational by 2026, this facility is anticipated to serve a region of significant importance in the production of heavy equipment, food, and forest products.

The financing for the Blue Ridge Connector encompasses a blend of internal capital from the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) and a grant from the Federal Maritime Administration, amounting to a maximum of US$46.8 million.

GPA said that Norfolk Southern Railroad will establish a link to GPA's Mason Mega Rail terminal in Savannah to seamlessly connect the facility.

With this recent endeavour, GPA's cumulative investment in rail capacity now exceeds US$374 million, including important projects such as the on-dock Mason Mega Rail Terminal at the Port of Savannah and the Appalachian Regional Port in Northwest Georgia. Currently, 18-20% of GPA's container cargo is efficiently transported by rail, with the remaining portion being handled by truck.

In a separate decision, the board has approved a US$44.5 million allocation towards the construction of a 27,870 m² facility on the Garden City Terminal. This facility will house offices and refrigeration facilities to support the operations of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

Notably, Savannah stands as the sole US port equipped with an on-port CBP inspection facility, which reduces costs and time for port customers by eliminating the need to transport cargo to an off-site inspection facility.

GPA chairman Kent Fountain emphasised the significance of the long-term partnership with CBP in ensuring the safe and secure operational flow of cargo through the gateway container terminal, framing the investment as a pivotal step in enhancing the efficiency of future supply chains in Savannah.

In a recent milestone, Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal was reopened for vessel traffic following a two-year renovation project. This development now enables the dock to accommodate vessels in the 16,000+ TEU range, contributing to the restoration of previous velocities in vessel service, with ship queues cleared. Meanwhile, at the Port of Brunswick, GPA is actively executing a US$262 million expansion programme.

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