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August 3, 2015 11:30 AM, EDT

Two US Railroads Advance Intermodal Projects

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CSX Corp. and Kansas City Southern have announced new facility advancement projects that are intended to handle more truck/rail freight.

CSX, based in Jacksonville, Florida, and the Georgia Ports Authority agreed to create an inland port near the state’s border with Tennessee to offer new truck/rail service options through the Port of Savannah, Georgia.

The joint announcement said the location in Chatsworth, about 100 miles northwest of Atlanta, was designed to serve businesses in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, as well as Georgia. Shipments of flooring, carpet, tires and automobiles are targeted for the new location, which is slated to open in 2018.

Two years ago, the state established its first inland port in Cordele, about 150 miles south of Atlanta, to link industries in that area with Savannah, the fourth-largest U.S. port. Inland ports have gained favor in other Atlantic Coast states such as Virginia and South Carolina as an option to cut truck miles for international cargo and allow fleets to better manage equipment by avoiding congested port areas.

The agreement to establish the inland port, whose cost was not disclosed, was signed by Gov. Nathan Deal and Murray County officials as well as representatives of the port agency and the railroad. The 42-acre site known as the Appalachian Regional Port is adjacent to U.S. Highway 411 and about 15 miles from Interstate 75.

“The public-private partnership established today, which includes direct rail access to the new inland port, will expand access for domestic and international shippers, providing increased options for cost-effective, environmentally friendly transportation services,” Clarence Gooden, CSX’s chief commercial officer, said in a statement.

The trip between Chatsworth and Savannah is estimated by the port to cut 40,000 annual truck trips through congested Atlanta by shifting to an all-rail route stretching nearly 400 miles.

The Kansas City Southern project has opened in the Dallas area to expand intermodal capacity.

The Wylie, Texas, terminal, which cost more than $64 million, increases the Kansas City, Missouri-based railroad’s capacity for domestic as well as growing cross-border shipments to and from Mexico, where it owns a railroad.

“The new terminal significantly increases the capacity previously available at the Zacha (Dallas-area) terminal, creates opportunity for planned economic growth and development, and makes the city of Wylie and Collin County, Texas, even more competitive to shippers looking to locate new operations.”

“We are very pleased to offer our intermodal customers this new, world-class terminal for U.S. domestic, U.S. international and U.S.-Mexico cross-border shipments,” KCS President Patrick Ottensmeyer said in a statement.

The new facility, featuring automated gates and biometric driver identification, can handle 342,000 shipments annually. It also has 1,500 parking spaces and 400 spots to stack containers.