The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Board of Directors approved $92 million for the Mason Mega Rail Terminal at its Sept. 17, 2018 meeting.
“It is no accident the GPA is constructing rail capacity as the demand for rail is growing,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “As part of our strategic planning two years ago, our team identified the growing role intermodal cargo would play in GPA’s long-term success and put into place this plan for expansion.”
The project will double the Port of Savannah’s annual rail capacity to 1 million containers and deliver the largest on-terminal rail facility in North America by 2020. The project broke ground earlier this year.
The work approved by the board Monday includes 124,000 feet of new track, 88 automated switches and rail control devices, as well as the rail and power infrastructure to support the operation of rail-mounted gantry cranes.
The Mason Mega Rail will combine the current on-dock CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern rail terminals into one facility, providing each railroad with at least nine 2,700-foot working tracks.
Officials said the added rail capacity will better accommodate 10,000-foot long unit trains on Garden City Terminal. These more cost-effective trains will provide faster, more frequent service over greater distances. This will extend the territory best served by the Port of Savannah along an arc of cities ranging from Memphis to St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati.
GPA moved 375,833 Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit containers (TEUs) in August, an eight-percent increase over August 2017. In addition, the GPA handled 86,200 intermodal TEUs, a 33 percent jump.
“A strengthening economy and a greater reliance on GPA in major inland markets is driving growth at the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We expect this trend to continue as more customers take advantage of Garden City Terminal’s central location and efficient terminal operations.”
The project was awarded a $44-million Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-Term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grant in July 2016. The FASTLANE grant combined with the approved funding covers the estimated $128-million price tag of the project.