“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.”
Handling both import and export containers at the Gainesville terminal, Norfolk Southern will provide service on a direct rail route to and from the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal.
Jeff Heller, Norfolk Southern’s vice president of intermodal and automotive, said, “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.
Port officials say improved access to rail will increase logistics options and overall efficiency while reducing congestion on Georgia highways. Presently, containers moving by truck travel a 600-mile roundtrip to and from the Port of Savannah. When the new rail yard opens, drivers will be able to make shorter trips from area manufacturers and distribution facilities to the Northeast Georgia site, according to GPA.
“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.”
GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood said the new choice in cargo handling will transform the local rail market, helping port customers optimize their supply chains.
The Northeast Georgia Inland Port is the second such announcement in the state this year. The GPA held a grand opening for the Appalachian Regional Port in August 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. At full build-out, it will have the capacity to handle up to 150,000 containers per year.