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Georgia Ports Authority approves Gainesville inland rail terminal

The Georgia Ports Authority is spending $127 million to build a second inland rail terminal in Gainesville.

The Blue Ridge Connector will link Northeast Georgia with the Port of Savannah. The new terminal will open in 2026.

“Through improved connectivity, developments like the Blue Ridge Connector maximize the impact of Georgia’s extensive logistics network,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Tuesday. “Inland terminals have a proven track record of powering economic development for rural Georgians by extending port services to the doorstep of manufacturing and supply chain operations.” The Blue Ridge Connector will join the Appalachian Regional Port in Northwest Georgia’s Murray County, the first inland terminal operating by the Georgia Ports Authority, which opened in 2018.

Norfolk Southern Railroad will connect the new inland port to the ports authority’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal in Savannah.

Counting the Blue Ridge Connector, the state has now invested $374 million in rail capacity. About 18% to 20% of the ports authority’s container cargo now moves by rail.

“This important investment will help our customers streamline their supply chains while reducing congestion of Georgia highways,” said Griff Lynch, the authority’s president and CEO. “As we have seen at the Appalachian Regional Port … improved rail service to the region will increase transportation efficiency and act as a magnet for jobs and economic development.” Every container moved by rail to the Blue Ridge Connector will avoid a 600-mile round trip by truck between Savannah and the Gainesville area.

“That’s a massive benefit to cargo owners seeking to reduce their carbon footprint,” Lynch added.

The federal government is putting up to $46.8 million toward the new inland terminal in the form of a grant from the Federal Maritime Administration.

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