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What lies ahead for inland port in northeast Hall County
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Chief Administrative Officer James C. McCurry Jr. speaks at the Hall County Farm Bureau’s annual membership meeting at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center Tuesday, Sept. 17. - photo by Jeff Gill

Some nine months after its announcement, the Georgia Ports Authority’s planned inland port in northeast Hall County is still in early phases, said the authority’s chief administrative officer on Tuesday, Sept. 17.

The authority has bought most of the property for the Northeast Georgia Inland Port and is “in a permitting and engineering phase right now,” said James C. McCurry Jr., speaking at the Hall County Farm Bureau’s annual membership meeting at Chicopee Woods Agricultural Center.

“We expect engineering of the site and design will be finished sometime around the first of the year,” McCurry said. “Then we will proceed from there to try to identify the source of capital that will pay for construction of the facility. We hope we can see that come to reality by the end of the next couple to three years.”

The regional cargo terminal will be built in Gateway Industrial Centre off Ga. 365 at White Sulphur Road.

Officials have estimated 150,000 containers per year could pour into the 104-acre port by way of Norfolk Southern railroad, which cuts through Gateway.

McCurry said he foresees early on about 100 to 150 trucks per day “coming and going from the facility, where they’re dropping off boxes or picking up boxes.”

The port’s announcement in December 2018 was a big deal, drawing local and state officials, including then-Gov. Nathan Deal. 

The port will directly serve the Interstate 85 region of Georgia, “an important (area) for the production of heavy equipment, food and forest products," Deal said at the event.

Handling both import and export containers at the Gainesville terminal, Norfolk Southern will provide service on a direct rail route to and from the Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal.

The port also is expected to be an economic engine, spurring growth in the surrounding area. Already planned is Gateway Village, a 500-acre industrial and commercial site across Ga. 365.

The port itself is expected to employ only about a dozen or so employees.

“Now, how that feeds and fosters other employment growth remains to be seen,” McCurry said.