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Intermodal

The “FAST” ACT in Motion

Last week the Georgia Port Authority announced receipt of $44 million from the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act also known as (FAST).The grant will be used to increase rail capacity at the Port of Savannah. In December President Obama signed the bill into law authorizing $305 billion in federal funds over five years for rail, highway development, public transportation and motor vehicle/motor carrier safety. Originally introduced under the “Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy” or DRIVE Act, funding for infrastructure projects was reviewed by the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees resulting in the FAST Act which was signed into law on 12/4/2015.* In February the Federal Highway Administration quickly set guidelines for the National Highway Freight Program. The interchange of intermodal freight has been widely studied by the FHA through the Office of Freight Management, which conducts and updates freight connector studies on multimodal corridors. The GPA plans to utilize the $44 million in conjunction with an additional $84 million on a five-year project known as the Port of Savannah International Multi-modal Connector. Situated on 1,200 acres along the Savannah River, Garden City Terminal operates a “Cross Dock” rail yard at Tomochichi Road and an “Off Dock” facility adjacent to the marine terminal but separated by SR-25. Last year Savannah handled just under three quarters of a million intermodal containers via the CSX and Norfolk Southern railroads. Hoping to cash in on more tonnage transiting the expanded Panama Canal, now is the time for Savannah to fully address the interchange of containers from quay to rail. This project hopes not only to increase rail capacity and velocity but also improve commuter traffic and reduce the environmental impact on surrounding communities. Savannah is not the only port to cash in on the Fast Act. Massport will receive $42 million for improvements to Conley Terminal and the Port of Coos Bay will fund their Tunnel Rehabilitation Project with $11 million designed to repair nine tunnels within the system. In the Port of New York and New Jersey the PANYNJ plans to use $10.67 million of FAST money for its “Cross Harbor Freight Project”. The 2011 Environmental Impact Report laid out two ambitious plans to take almost half a million vehicles off local roadways and the George Washington and Verrazano Narrows Bridges. The first plan favors a freight only rail tunnel between Jersey City and Brooklyn while the second calls for enhancements to the “New York Dock Railway, “a railcar float operation between Bush Terminal Bay Ridge and the Greenville Yard in south Jersey City”. In Maine the Port Authority has earmarked $7.72 million for the “Maine Intermodal Port Productivity Project” upgrading track and grade crossings at the International Marine Terminal Portland. Improvements will enable the port to double its throughput into the Northeaster rail corridor in the hopes of capturing additional trading partners from Canada, Scandinavia and North Europe. In all Congress will spend $800 million on FAST related projects this year. *November Blog: ”Highways and Bi-ways in the Drive Act” and the Congress.gov summary of HR - 22 the FAST ACT
Matt Guasco
Matt Guasco

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