Georgia’s Transportation network has spurred the growth of the industry across the State. The movement of raw material and the finished product is made possible by committed partners, like the Georgia Ports Authority who continue to invest in the infrastructure and technology to better serve their customers. The Appalachian Regional Port is a great example of this commitment to keep Georgia’s businesses moving.
The Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) is a joint effort of the state of Georgia, Murray County, the Georgia Ports Authority, and CSX Transportation. The inland rail terminal, which opened in August 2018, provides a powerful gateway to global markets. Each round-trip container moved via the ARP offsets 710 truck miles on Georgia highways. The facility has a capacity of 50,000 containers per year and a 10-year development plan will double that capacity.
We dug a little deeper with Wesley Barrell, General Manager of Strategic Operations, and Drew Hayes, Manager of Operations of the Georgia Ports Authority:
What would you say the impact of the port has been so far?
Wesley Barrell: The impact of the Appalachian Regional Port is being creative within the county. One of the main distributors, a new business, is GE Appliance. They built a 500,000-square-foot distribution center centered around the operation of the regional port and the company itself. This is located just two miles south of the terminal, and every bit of business coming in from our rails from Savannah comes directly to this distribution center. Then from there, the goods are moved toward other distribution centers. So, there’s a huge impact with a new business. Beyond that, you’ve got the larger manufacturers from automotive manufacturing, heavy equipment manufacturing, and flooring, which is big in this area. Being able to complement that movement, from a safety perspective to an environmental one - being able to reduce the footprint, use the rails, moving more cargo with less - is a big win for logistics. And we're able to keep industry-leading turnaround times, so the trucks are only here for a short period of time, and then they’re able to move into the market.
What does the future look like for the Appalachian Regional Port?
Wesley Barrell: The first internal expansion we've done is the storage stack, which we have right in the center of our terminal. We had the opportunity to bring in long-term storage and some increase in freight as well. As the East Coast has increased business rapidly, so has our business here at the ARP. Again, we went through a 300 feet extension on our stack, which gave us additional capacity. The next expansion will be of labor hours; we’ll be able to add an additional shift. Right now, we’re working a day shift operation, so we’ll be able to expand that and open the gate up for the truck drivers in the warehouse. That’s the plan for when the volume elevates again, which we hope to see in the next fiscal year.
What is it like to see the positive impact the port has on this amazing region of Georgia?
Drew Hayes: Being a local - I graduated from Murray County High School - and seeing the impact that the Port has for this area, bringing goods 300 miles from our maritime facility in Savannah to the front doors of these huge production facilities, it’s really incredible. It is truly a success story, and our partnerships with these local industries show that. And on another level, there are the jobs. The port is creating more jobs in this area, from trucking to warehousing to logistics. I’m so proud of the growth of the region and really looking forward to what the future holds.