"Sustainable Competitiveness" was the theme of this year's Georgia Logistics Summit.
The state of Georgia is considered to be one of the major transportation hubs in the US with one of the fastest growing ports, an expanding international airport, two Class I railroads and several interstates that connect the state to all regions of the country. Few other states can rival Georgia's infrastructure. However, according to the Governor of the state, Nathan Deal, the key to remaining competitive is improving the state's infrastructure through a transportation referendum that will be voted on later this year and the deepening of the Port of Savannah in anticipation of the opening of an enlarged Panama Canal in 2014.
For the transportation referendum, the state of Georgia is divided in twelve regions. Each region that passes the referendum will agree to an additional one cent added to the sales tax which will then go for transportation projects in that particular region. If approved by all twelve regions, it is estimated at least $18bn can be generated for transportation funding.
The need to deepen the Port of Savannah has received nationwide attention, particularly as it seeks federal funding along with neighbor ports Jacksonville and Charleston. The significance of the Port of Savannah is not only important to the state's economy, but also to the US economy as it is the second busiest US port for containerized exports.
According to the Army Corp of Engineers, deepening the Port of Savannah will save at least $100m in transportation costs for businesses. To remain competitive and also in preparation of the expansion of the Panama Canal, the Port has made considerable improvements including expansion of facilities, new cranes and upgrades in IT systems just to name a few. The need to improve transportation infrastructure connecting the port was another item of discussion, with CSX and Norfolk Southern both recognized for already making considerable improvements to both rail and intermodal facilities around the port.
While the majority of speakers and participants agreed the need to pass the transportation referendum and deepen the Port of Savannah were vital for Georgia to remain competitive, the day-long event also offered several break-out sessions to share thoughts by industry leaders from such industries as the automotive, food and beverage, retail and durable goods. Intermodal was also represented.
With only standing room available, interest in the intermodal sector was apparent as this particular session included a panel discussion by CSX, Norfolk Southern, Schneider, Werner and UPS. Concerns noted by all included fuel, regulations and driver shortages. Of interest was Schneider, in particular, who noted the company has experienced strong growth in cross-border service, particularly Mexico, because of the increase in near-sourcing. CSX and Norfolk Southern both discussed progress on intermodal terminal projects. CSX is close to opening its Montreal intermodal terminal and Norfolk Southern will be opening several of its own in 2012.
Content provided in partnership with Transport Intelligence.
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