Friday March 1st, 2024 9:32AM

Georgia Ports Authority approves use of $127M to build Blue Ridge Connector

By Austin Eller News Director

The Georgia Ports Authority announced Tuesday its board has approved the use of $127 million to build the Blue Ridge Connector in Hall County, also commonly known as the Inland Port.

According to a press release from the GPA, the funding for the project is a mix of GPA internal capital and a grant from the Federal Maritime Administration of up to $46.8 million. Norfolk Southern Railroad will connect the facility to GPA's Mason Mega Rail terminal in Savannah.

"Counting this latest project, GPA has now invested more than $374 million in rail capacity, including the Port of Savannah’s on-dock Mason Mega Rail Terminal and the Appalachian Regional Port in Northwest Georgia," the release said.

About 18 to 20% of GPA's container cargo moves by rail.

The Blue Ridge Connector is expected to open in 2026 on White Sulphur Road close to Georgia 365 northeast of Gainesville.

“Through improved connectivity, developments like the Blue Ridge Connector maximize the impact of Georgia’s extensive logistics network,” said Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. “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.”

“This important investment will help our customers streamline their supply chains while reducing congestion on Georgia highways,” said GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch. “As we have seen at the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County, 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 will avoid a 600-mile roundtrip by truck between Savannah and the Gainesville, area."

Officials with the Georgia Ports Authority and Hall County recently held a public meeting on the port, which gave area citizens a chance to voice comments and concerns about the project. Among those, citizens have voiced concerns about increased traffic in the region along with environmental concerns.

Two roads will see major improvements and realignments ahead of the connector’s completion.

A portion of White Sulphur Road is set to be realigned and renamed to Cagle Road along a stretch between the Kubota facility and Air Line Baptist Church. 

Existing portions of Cagle Road are set to receive major improvements as well.

Hall County Commissioner Gregg Poole previously told AccessWDUN that the funds for the roadway improvements would come from several sources.

“We [Hall County] have the money and the budget, everything earmarked, the money for the road improvements — we've got,” Poole said. “The DOT [Department of Transportation] has given us $1 for every dollar we put in … the port gave us four and a half million dollars .. and we have some grant money coming from the federal government.”

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: hall county, Business, georgia ports authority, development, infrastructure, Inland Port, Blue Ridge Connector
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