On Friday, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of an expanded Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility at the Port of Savannah.
Through a $6.5 million project, the authority extended a rail yard by 6,000 feet to expand capacity. The expansion will enable Norfolk Southern Railway to cut round-trip turn times to Atlanta by six hours.
"These improvements allow Norfolk Southern to offer an efficient, competitive route to the large inland port just up the road — Atlanta," said Jeffrey Heller, NS' group vice president of international intermodal services, in a prepared statement.
In addition, the rail yard's increased efficiency will save time on each container transfer handled at the Mason facility, saving port customers money, said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.
Due to the expansion, the Garden City Terminal's two rail yards — which are served by NS and CSX Transportation — now feature 46,921 linear feet of track, he said.
Trains previously entered the Mason transfer facility from the east and exited toward the west, making a wide loop through Garden City. Now, trains can arrive from the west, cars can be switched on terminal and trains can later exit toward the west, avoiding the use of 21 grade crossings, GPA officials said.
The infrastructure improvements help prepare the Port of Savannah for projected increases in the share of containers moved via rail, said GPA Chairman Robert Jepson.
"Currently, 18 percent of Savannah's container volume is moved by train," he said.
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