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The Port of Savannah plans to extend its intermodal rail reach beyond the Southeast and into the Midwest with a $128 million project that will link the Garden City Terminal's two rail yards, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Griff Lynch announced yesterday.The GPA's "Mid-American Arc" plan is part of the port's strategy to invest in infrastructure improvements to capture a greater market share, Lynch said in a press release.Construction of the expansion, which will form the Port of Savannah International Multimodal Connector, will take four years."This enhancement of our rail capacity is a game-changer in the market to serve cities ranging in an arc from Atlanta to Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and the Ohio Valley," Lynch said. "Additional track will allow us to build unit trains, 10,000 feet long, completely on terminal, while reducing rail crossings and impact on the local community."The $128 million project will improve efficiency and increase terminal rail lift capacity to 1 million containers per year. It also will allow GPA to build the unit trains on terminal without disrupting nearby traffic. The project will be funded in part by a $44 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation.Unit train capacity on terminal will build density into the system, which will speed up and add rail service to markets in the Midwest that are attractive to rail providers CSX and Norfolk Southern Railway, port officials said.CSX and NS currently provide double-stack container trains along the entire route between Savannah and the Midwest, which would be a key advantage to GPA's Mid-American Arc, port officials said.Also yesterday, Lynch welcomed Floor & Decor's announcement of Phase 1 of a 1.4 million-square-foot distribution center complex. Construction is anticipated to begin in November on the build-to-suit facility, with an opening slated for 2018. The center will be located on 90 acres about 10 miles from the Port of Savannah. A second phase will add another 1.1 million square feet, for a total of 2.5 million square feet.
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