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GPA holds grand opening for expanded rail yard

11/16/2012 - Savannah

Savannah, Ga. – November 16, 2012 – Georgia Ports Authority’s expanded Mason Intermodal Container Transfer Facility is open for business, with improvements cutting round-trip Norfolk Southern train movements 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.

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony held Friday, GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz said the $6.5 million, 6,000-foot rail yard extension will expand capacity, improve efficiencies and reduce costs for customers.

“The rail yard’s increased efficiency will save time on each container transfer handled at Mason ICTF, saving port customers money,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.

With this expansion, the Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards, serving Class I rail providers Norfolk Southern and CSX, now feature a total of 46,921 linear feet of track

“Our two on-terminal facilities mean shippers don’t have to haul their goods to remote rail yards, and can get cargo moving to distribution centers or other destinations more quickly,” Foltz said. “This expansion is part of our ongoing effort to hone the world-class service at the Port of Savannah.”

Previously, trains entered the Mason ICTF from the east and exited toward the west. This required the trains to make a wide loop through Garden City. The expanded lines, working in conjunction with a wye installed by Norfolk Southern, will allow arriving trains to enter from the west. The cars will be switched on terminal, with trains later exiting toward the west. The new operation will avoid the use of 21 at-grade rail crossings and shave six hours from the round-trip turn times to Atlanta.

“The upgrades made to this site will enhance Norfolk Southern’s ability to serve GPA customers safely and expeditiously, while providing for growth in coming years,” said Heller. “In addition to reduced transit times, the wye and the on-site improvements will benefit local residents through improved commuter safety.”

The state Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority worked in tandem on a Highway 307 overpass and the rail expansion projects in order to boost efficiency for both truck and rail transport. The DOT-funded overpass routes trucks above the one previous rail line and the six expanded tracks at Mason ICTF.

“This infrastructure investment helps prepare the Port of Savannah for projected increases in the share of container volumes moved via rail,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson. “Currently, 18 percent of Savannah’s container volume is moved by train.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah was the second busiest U.S. container port for the export of American goods by tonnage in FY2011. It also handled 8.7 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2011.

Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC) is one of the nation's premier transportation companies. Its Norfolk Southern Railway subsidiary operates approximately 20,000 route miles in 22 states and the District of Columbia, serves every major container port in the eastern United States, and provides efficient connections to other rail carriers. Norfolk Southern operates the most extensive intermodal network in the East and is a major transporter of coal and industrial products.

For additional information, please contact GPA’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Robert Morris at (912) 964-3855 or rmorris@gaports.com. Visit the GPA web site at www.gaports.com.