Construction on the Northeast Georgia Inland Port could start in the spring after the Georgia Ports Authority project recently cleared a final hurdle.
The Gainesville and Hall County Development Authority on Tuesday, Nov. 30, approved the purchase and eventual sale of about 3.2 acres of land at the intersection of White Sulphur Road and Hillcrest Drive for about $410,000. The land will be sold to the Georgia Ports Authority at cost to build an additional entrance to the inland port.
The inland port will add a 324-mile intermodal freight rail service to connect the port of Savannah directly to the 104-acre site at the Gateway Industrial Centre north of Gainesville. It would also include six railroad tracks with a combined length of about 18,000 feet connecting with the Norfolk Southern Crescent Corridor.
“Over the course of the last two years, maybe three years, we, the authority, have been acquiring property on behalf of the county that would be sold to GPA,” said Tread Syfan, lawyer for the development authority at the Tuesday meeting.
This property should be the last section that GPA needs to start construction, Syfan said.
“We sold the big tract for the inland port (in 2018), but (GPA’s) engineers designed a new entrance road so they needed this additional property in order to locate their entrance road into the inland port facility,” Syfan said.
This summer, GPA received a $46 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation. Phil Wilheit, the chairman of the development authority, said this grant helped move the expected completion date up an entire year, and the port is expected to be operational in 2024.
Receiving federal money meant that GPA had to go through a National Environmental Policy Act permit process. The comment period for the NEPA permit expired last week, said Brian Rochester of Rochester and Associates, who is doing engineering work on the project. This means the project should soon have clearance to start construction from the federal government.