Gov. Nathan Deal speaks during the announcement for the Georgia Ports Authority's new inland terminal, Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in Gainesville, Ga. Cargo moved via the Northeast Georgia Inland Port near Gainesville will reduce Atlanta truck traffic by shifting containers to rail. Set to open in 2021, the new inland port will be operated by the Georgia Ports Authority and served by Norfolk Southern. (Georgia Ports Authority / Stephen B. Morton)
Inland port to serve fast-growing Gainesville region
Gov. Nathan Deal, along with representatives of the Georgia Ports Authority, the Greater Hall Chamber and Norfolk Southern Railroad, announced plans Monday, Dec., 3 to make Hall County the site of the GPA's next inland port.
"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.
"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 Norfolk Southern's Jeff Heller, 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."
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.
"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."
Located in the Gateway Industrial Centre on GA 365, the new 104-acre terminal will provide logistics solutions for customers across Northeast Georgia. The facility's services will draw from the 1.5-million population in Hall, Gwinnett and surrounding counties.
In conjunction with GPA's inland terminal announcement, 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. Construction will soon begin on the new home for AMD in the Gateway Industrial Centre. Upon completion, the $15 million development will bring 40 jobs to Hall County.
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. At full build-out, it will have the capacity to handle up to 150,000 containers per year.