On Thursday, Georgia Ports Authority executive director Griff Lynch announced a strategic initiative to strengthen the state's rail ties with the Southeast and Midwestern U.S.
"This enhancement of our rail capacity is a game-changer in the market to serve cities ranging in an arc from Atlanta to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley,” Lynch said. “Additional track will allow us to build unit trains, 10,000 feet long, completely on terminal, while reducing rail crossings and impact on the local community.”
The plan features a $128 million project that will link together the Port of Savannah Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards, improve efficiency and grow the terminal’s rail lift capacity to approximately 1 million containers each year. The project is funded in part by a $44 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The port has been growing for years, and over the past decade and a half its cargo expansion has outpaced all other major U.S. container ports, Lynch said. The new rail improvements will underpin a continuation of the positive trend.
Lynch also announced that flooring retailer Floor & Decor will open a 1.4 million square-foot distribution center about 10 miles from the Port of Savannah. Construction is slated to begin in November 2016 and the new center will add and retain 115 jobs. A second phase will add another 1.1 million square feet, for a total of 2.5 million square feet. It is among the region's largest development projects.
“This is a tremendous vote of confidence in the Georgia Ports Authority and the future of the fast-growing market of the U.S. Southeast,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “It comes on the heels of a year in which millions of square feet of industrial and warehouse space were opened or announced across Georgia, accounting for more than 3,800 port-related jobs, and half a billion dollars in investment.”