Norfolk Southern to serve new Georgia inland container port

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Georgia Ports Authority rendering of the Northeast Georgia Inland Port.

Georgia is doubling down on the inland port concept, along with Norfolk Southern announcing plans for a rail-served hub 50 miles from Atlanta.

Norfolk Southern, the Georgia Ports Authority and Gov. Nathan Deal on Dec. 3 announced plans to locate the intermodal hub in Gainesville in Hall County, in the northeast part of the state.

“The Northeast Georgia Inland Port will be situated in the heart of the manufacturing and logistics corridor along Interstate 85, an important region for the production of heavy equipment, food and forest products,” Deal said. “Besides serving these existing port customers, it will also act as an economic development tool, drawing new investment from business and industry to Hall and its surrounding counties.”

Norfolk Southern will handle import and export containers at the Gainesville terminal, with direct service to and from the Port of Savannah‘s Garden City Terminal.

“Savannah is a rapidly growing gateway for global commerce, and Hall County and the surrounding region in Northeast Georgia are key areas of expansion in the state. Manufacturers and distributors around the globe continue to set their sights on this region for development,” said Jeff Heller, NS Vice President Intermodal & Automotive. “Georgia Ports Authority’s inland port at Gainesville, combined with Norfolk Southern’s rail service, will provide crucial links in the supply chains of local industries, consumers, and the rest of the world, and serve as a catalyst for new opportunities for industrial development. Norfolk Southern is pleased to partner with the GPA on this important project.”

Inland ports are becoming an attractive option for intermodal logistics providers, situated far from the densely populated and congested regions surrounding major container ports.

Containers moving by truck from the region now travel a 600-mile roundtrip to and from the Port of Savannah. When the Gainesville rail terminal opens, drivers will be able to make shorter trips from area manufacturers and distribution facilities to the Northeast Georgia site.

“Our new Gainesville location is part of our Network Georgia initiative, which provides new and existing port customers with additional logistics options,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “The new rail hub will allow importers and exporters to move loaded containers to the coast with greater efficiency, and provide a ready source of empty containers for Georgia exports.”

The Northeast Georgia Inland Port is the second Network Georgia-related announcement this year. The GPA held a grand opening for the Appalachian Regional Port Aug. 22 just north of Chatsworth, Ga., on a 42-acre site in Murray County. The Hall County inland terminal is scheduled to be complete in 2021, with planned full capacity of 150,000 containers per year.

The new hub will transform the local rail market, said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood, helping port customers optimize their supply chains.

“Our inland terminals are bringing our ports and producers closer together, providing new economic opportunities,” Allgood said. “That’s good news for Georgians, who will benefit from increased employment options as more companies expand or locate here. Georgia Ports already support more than 440,000 jobs across every corner of the state.”

Located in the Gateway Industrial Centre on GA 365, the new 104-acre terminal will provide logistics solutions for customers across Northeast Georgia, and draw from a population of 1.5 million in Hall, Gwinnett and surrounding counties.

At the same time, Auto Metal Direct, a worldwide distributor of auto body panels and trim for classic cars and trucks, announced its intent to open a new 318,000 square-foot distribution and fulfillment center at Gateway. The company receives hundreds of containers each year.

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