Georgia Ports Authority receives FAST grant

Georgia Ports Authority receives FAST grant

The Georgia Ports Authority has received a $44 million Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) grant from the US Department of Transportation to increase rail capacity at the Port of Savannah.

“I would like to thank the Georgia Congressional delegation, including Congressmen Buddy Carter and Rob Woodall, and Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, for their dedicated support of this program,” said Griff Lynch, GPA executive director.

“As the nation’s fourth-busiest container port, Savannah’s continued rail expansion is a key component to freight mobility in this country,” he said. “This transformative project will not only increase rail capacity and velocity at the Garden City Container Terminal, but will also provide substantial benefits to surrounding communities by improving public safety, reducing environmental impacts, and avoiding commuter traffic.”

The Maritime Professional website recently published an article by Joseph R Fonseca elaborating on these grant awards that include the one to the GPA:

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced 18 proposed grant awards for projects under the Nationally Significant Freight and Highway Projects Program. The program, also known as the Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) grants, is a new competitive grant program established under the FAST Act to provide funding for nationally significant highway, bridge, and freight projects.

Five port authorities are on the list of proposed grant awardees:

1. Georgia Ports Authority ($44 million)

2. Massachusetts Port Authority ($42 million)

3. Port of Coos Bay ($11 million)

4. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ($10.67 million)

5. Maine Port Authority ($7.72 million)

The FASTLANE program requires DOT to notify the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee at least 60 days before a grant is awarded for a project.

The $44 million GPA award is a significant portion of a total $128 million project known as the Port of Savannah International Multi-modal Connector. The project is expected to take five years to complete.

Currently, 18% of the containers handled at Garden City Terminal moves on Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX. The Port of Savannah handled 3.73 million 20-foot equivalent container units in 2015.

“Investments such as this and the related inland rail facilities throughout Georgia will help shift more containers from truck to rail, allowing greater efficiency and reduced highway congestion,” said Jimmy Allgood, GPA board chairman. “Rail cargo will play an important role in our future, not only increasing our capacity, but also opening up new markets for Georgia’s ports. Gov Nathan Deal has also announced a $10 billion freight mobility plan to be carried out over the next 10 years, which will improve the capacity and fluidity of transportation infrastructure across the state.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 369,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $20.4 billion in income, $84.1 billion in revenue, and $2.3 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8% of US containerized cargo volume and 11% of all US containerized exports in CY2014.

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