Appalachian Regional Port Could Brighten Chattanooga’s Logistics Future

Ruth Thompson

Could Chattanooga’s freight and logistics businesses benefit from a regional inland port terminal? Thrive 2055, our 16-county, 3-state regional growth initiative, believes the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, the Georgia Ports Authority, Murray County and CSX Corporation recently signed a memorandum of agreement to construct a 42-acre facility called the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County, Georgia, 45 miles southeast of Chattanooga. Expected to open in 2018, the inland terminal will be constructed near the county seat of Chatsworth.

The terminal will have the capacity to transfer 50,000 containers per year between rail and trucks for distribution throughout Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky and beyond.  A 10-year expansion plan could double that capacity.

According to the Thrive 2055 Trends and Forces Report, 80 percent of our interstate freight traffic neither stops nor starts in Chattanooga. The Appalachian Regional Port will be a significant first step for streamlining the movement of that freight. 

 “By bringing the Appalachian Regional Port to Murray County, we can attract industry to the region that will support our economic health and help us retain our quality of life,” says Murray County’s Sole Commissioner Brittany Pittman.

 Pittman worked for more than two years, with help from Thrive 2055, to bring the inland port facility to Murray County, located at the western edge of the Chattahoochee National Forest in Northwest Georgia.

“Through Thrive 2055’s outreach efforts, the citizens of the region spoke clearly that moving people and products more efficiently throughout the region was a top priority,” says Bridgett Massengill, project manager for Thrive 2055. “This project is a direct answer to their input.”

Working in partnership with the Chattanooga Chamber Foundation, Thrive 2055’s mission is to make the most of our region’s economic opportunities while preserving what citizens love about their home communities.

To that end, the Appalachian Regional Port will streamline logistics for established regional businesses, attract new business and distribution centers and also provide an energy efficient way for companies to move goods through the region.

“Because of the complexity of planning for transportation projects throughout a multi-jurisdictional area, facilitating the movement of freight is extremely difficult,” says Connie Vaughan, chair of the Thrive 2055 transportation committee and vice president of government relations for McKee Foods. “Commissioner Pittman envisioned an effective regional strategy to make more efficient movement of goods a reality.”

The new Murray County terminal will accommodate the increase in cargo expected to move inland from the Port of Savannah, which is currently deepening its channel to allow increased shipping cargo capacity.

“A $24 million regional transportation facility in a mostly rural county of 40,000 people, with projections of reducing traffic by 50,000 trucks, takes a bold step toward achieving a balanced approach to solving our region’s transportation issues,” says Dan Jacobson, chair of the Thrive 2055 coordinating committee.

For more on Thrive 2055, visit thrive2055.com.

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