New inland port in north Georgia will move thousands of trucks away from Atlanta

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, October 26, 2017

Truckers hauling freight in and out of the Port of Savannah in Georgia will be diverted to a new location near the Georgia-Tennessee border at around this time next year. The new inland port is expected to take approximately 50,000 trucks off Georgia highways in highly congested areas.

Expected to open in Chatsworth, Ga., in October 2018, the inland port is a relief for many Atlanta commuters who have been complaining about the truck traffic from the Savannah Port.

For truckers, this means avoiding waiting in traffic in one of the world’s most congested cities. Inrix ranked Atlanta the ninth most congested city worldwide, spending an average of more than 70 hours a year in traffic jams. Depending on their route, truckers could save approximately 350 miles on a trip as well.

Photo courtesy of Georgia Port Authority

A 388-mile rail route will run from Garden City Terminal at the Savannah Port to the Appalachian Regional Port. Rather than drive down to North America’s busiest single-terminal container facility near the Atlantic Ocean, truckers will pick up freight at the Chatsworth port, which is 86 miles north of Atlanta.

According to the Georgia Port Authority, the Appalachian Regional Port will sit on 42 acres in Murray County. Not only will the port supply easy access to Interstate 75 and U.S. 411, but the inland port will prevent truckers from having to cross through Atlanta. GPA estimates that each container moved by rail to the inland port will offset 355 truck miles on the state’s highways.

In addition to avoiding 8 million truck miles on Georgia roads in the first year, the Georgia Port Authority also claims the regional port will reduce emissions by 16,038 tons of CO2 in year one, an 80 percent reduction.

The Georgia Port Authority says the Appalachian Regional Port will help support existing businesses and attract new industries for local job and economic growth. Murray County has less than 40,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Median household income in the county is $35,539 with a poverty rate of 20 percent, according to Data USA.

Top employment by occupation in Murray County:

  1. Production and Transportation – 30.3 percent
  2. Sales and Office – 23 percent
  3. Management/Business/Science/Arts – 19.2 percent
  4. Service – 15.4 percent
  5. Natural Resources, Construction and Maintenance – 11.8 percent

By industry, transportation and warehousing account for only 5 percent of employment in Murray County. Manufacturing is the dominating industry at 38 percent of employment.

Public opinion of the port appears to be mostly optimistic. A petition on Change.org to stop the port from happening garnered only 430 supporters, falling short of the 500 needed. Many of the major concerns – health risks, environmental impact and decreased property values – have been addressed by Georgia Port Authority.

According to Georgia Port Authority documents, the new port will attract well-paying jobs. Additionally, manufacturers like Toyo Tires in White, Ga., will have more transit options.

The Appalachian Regional Port is a joint effort with Georgia Port Authority, Murray County and CSX Transportation. Total costs of the port amount to $24 million: $10 million from the state, $7.5 million from Georgia Port Authority, $5.5 million from CSX and a $1 million contribution from Murray County. The service area will include North Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and parts of Kentucky.

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