AAPA Seaports Advisory

Intermodal Connectivity: Georgia, North Carolina

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Georgia Ports Authority Approves $19.7M for New Inland Terminal

At its July board meeting, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) approved a spending package of $19.7 million to construct the Appalachian Regional Port in Chatsworth (GA).

The funds consist of $10 million from the state of Georgia and $9.7 million from the GPA. In addition, CSX is making off-site improvements to facilitate the new inland port. Murray County purchased the land at a cost of $700,000 and deeded the site to GPA. For the land purchase, $500,000 came from a state economic development grant and $200,000 from the Murray County Economic Development Authority.

"We would like to thank our Board of Directors, Gov. Deal, the state of Georgia, Murray County and CSX Transportation for making this incredible partnership possible," said Executive Director Griff Lynch. "The Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) will create a new gateway to the Port of Savannah for our customers serving Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and beyond. We estimate the ARP will offset more than 350 truck miles per container, or close to 18 million miles every year."

Located in Murray County, some 330 miles from Savannah, it will be the GPA’s second inland terminal and part of the "Network Georgia" initiative to create inland terminals throughout the state to reduce intermodal truck traffic and provide greater rail capacity to the Southeast U.S. and beyond.

The inland terminal in Chatsworth will be approximately 40 acres and be operated using highly efficient rubber-tired gantry cranes to move cargo to and from CSX trains. GPA expects construction to be complete in late summer, 2018.

At that same meeting, Mr. Lynch reported the GPA moved 30.8 million tons of cargo in FY 2016, while the container count topped 3.6 million TEUs for the second year in a row.

"Overall, FY16 container volumes exceeded expectations due to inflated market share associated with last year's West Coast cargo diversions," Mr. Lynch said. "When our new customers experienced the seamless connection between Georgia's ports, rail and roads, they decided to grow their business here. This coming year we will be focused on increasing our capacity, expanding our reach into new markets and providing superior supply chain solutions for our customers."

GPA estimates that that it retained approximately 24 percent of the 320,000 TEUs diverted to the Port of Savannah during FY 2015.

At the July meeting, the board, the board also approved $4.3 million to upgrade electrical power for GPA's growing fleet of neo-Panamax Ship to Shore (STS) cranes. Eight STS cranes will be added to the inventory by the end of 2017, bringing the total to 30.

North Carolina: New Direct Intermodal Rail Service to Connect Port of Wilmington and Charlotte

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory joined officials from the N.C. Department of Transportation and CSX Corporation on July 19 to announce the debut of an intermodal rail service between the Port of Wilmington and CSX’s intermodal terminal in Charlotte.

"The Queen City Express will be the only direct freight rail service into the Greater Charlotte area from a port in the Southeast," Gov. McCrory said. "The introduction of this new service will facilitate the efficient, cost-effective movement of goods between the global marketplace and one of the most significant economic centers in the southeastern United States."

CSX eventually will provide direct access from the port to its Carolina Connector intermodal terminal, a $270 million gateway, connecting Eastern North Carolina with the railroad’s system located about 150 miles/244 kilometers from the port in Edgecombe County.

According to the North Carolina State Ports Authority (NCSPA), the Carolina Connector intermodal terminal, along with the Queen City Express, will lower transportation costs for businesses while taking trucks off the road and generate 1,500 jobs across the state.

"CSX is proud to partner with the state of North Carolina to bring the Carolina Connector to Eastern North Carolina which will provide cheaper, faster and more environmentally-friendly connections for North Carolina’s businesses and ports to domestic and international markets," said CSX Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Michael J. Ward. "This critical infrastructure project will create jobs and spur economic development in the region, positioning Eastern North Carolina as a transportation and logistics hub in the south."

Wilmington continues to see growth in containers and infrastructure, and recently welcomed its largest-ever container ship. The ports authority is moving forward with a $100 million investment in infrastructure improvements including new cranes, an enhanced berth and a wider turning basin, with further expansion on the way. The state budget signed by Gov. McCrory includes $70 million over two years for modernization at the state ports.

"The return of intermodal rail to the Port of Wilmington expands our reach into an under-served market," said NCSPA Executive Director Paul J. Cozza. "The Queen City Express will provide premier rail service over competing ports for existing and future container customers."

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