On Tuesday, March 27th, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) broke ground on a massive new intermodal facility expansion at the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal. According to the Georgia Ports press release, the $126.7 million Mason Mega Rail Terminal will increase the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity to 1 million containers per year, opening up lucrative new market opportunities throughout the east coast and the Midwest.
This project is one of many in Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal’s $10 billion statewide transportation improvement plan, which includes an expansion and dredging of the Savannah harbor as well as the construction of another inland intermodal terminal. In the Mar. 27 press release, Gov. Deal stated, “Today is a great day for Georgia and the nation – not only will this new intermodal facility take trucks off the road and bring our products to market with greater efficiency, but it will open a new corridor for American commerce to and from the Midwest.”
Construction plans for the expansion are quite ambitious. Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch has said that, “The Mason Mega Rail project will expand rail capacity by 100 percent, while reducing impact on the local community and throughout the supply chain.” When complete, the new facility will have 180,000 total feet of rail and 18 working tracks, providing the terminal the ability to construct 10,000-foot unit trains on-site. The GPA estimates that the new facility will take 200,000 trucks off the road annually, and according to GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood, “Our team estimates the Mason Mega Rail Terminal will slash rail time to the Midwest by a good 24 hours.”
This move will solidify the Port of Savannah as the South Atlantic region’s most prolific intermodal gateway, with the current number of 38 import and export trains handled weekly surely poised to increase. For the fiscal year of 2017, the Port of Savannah handled 8.5 percent of U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10 percent of all U.S. containerized exports, positioning it as the 2nd busiest U.S. container exporter and 4th busiest U.S. port overall. With the completion of the Mason Mega Rail Terminal, the deepening of the Savannah harbor, and the addition of 60 yard cranes, the Port of Savannah will have a state-of-the-art facility, entirely unique to the east coast.
The GPA estimates that the terminal will be coming online by the fall of 2019, and project completion should be expected by the fall of 2020.