After a soft opening earlier this month, the Appalachian Regional Port is officially open for business. The new inland terminal is located in Northwest Georgia and is set to service customers from four surrounding states.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal joined hundreds of other business and government leaders in celebrating the new port in a short ceremony Wednesday. The 42-acre facility was a joint effort between the State of Georgia, Georgia Ports Authority, Murray County and CSX Transportation.
“The Appalachian Regional Port is a powerful new gateway to the Port of Savannah that extends the efficiencies of Georgia’s superior port operations to new markets,” Deal said. “It will also serve as an economic development magnet, drawing business and industry to the Southeast U.S.”
Deal said the State of Georgia offers tax incentives to businesses that come to the state’s most job-strapped counties. Murray County, where the port is located, is one of those counties.
The ARP will provide area manufacturers with a close, convenient and cost-effective source of empty containers, leading to significant cost savings. It will offer five days of free storage for loaded containers and 10 days of free storage for empty containers, according to a GPA media release.
“We plan on using it as a cost-savings initiative for Mohawk,” Mohawk Flooring Director of Transportation and Logistics Steve Bevan said. “Instead of trucking from Savannah to North Georgia, we’ll pick up the containers in Chatsworth at the ARP, and truck it from there to our locations. We’re going to use it as much as we can. It’s a significant cost savings for us.”
The port features intermodal rail service through CSX, which will allow customers to move loads to and from the Port of Savannah without sending trucks all the way through the state. The facility is expected to remove about 50,000 trucks and 15 million truck miles from highways annually, according to the release.
Each round-trip container moved will eliminate about 710 truck miles from Georgia highways, which Deal said will make the state’s roadways safer for all who drive on them.
GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said the new port is an integral part of the Network Georgia initiative, which exists to bring services form the state’s coast to communities further inland.
CSX will handle both imports and exports on a direct, 388-mile rail route to and from the Port of Savannah, the second busiest port on the Atlantic seaboard.
“CSX is proud to serve regional customers through the ARP, which will unlock new economic opportunities while lowering shipping costs,” said Dean Piacente, vice president of CSX intermodal sales and marketing. “We applaud the vision and leadership of Governor Deal and the Georgia Ports Authority, as they drive Georgia forward in ways that will benefit both businesses and consumers.”
The new rail terminal includes three electric cranes, which can handle 100,000 container lifts each year.