$200M Georgia rail terminal project to fuel Bluff City logistics growth

Via Memphis Business Journal

A multimillion-dollar Georgia rail development is expected to help grow the logistics market in the Bluff City.

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) executive director Griff Lynch will brief the Memphis World Trade Club on Savannah’s expanding rail service to Memphis at a virtual luncheon on Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The Port of Savannah’s $200 million Mason Mega Rail Terminal is being promoted as the largest on-dock intermodal rail facility for a North American port. 

The Mason Mega Rail project will combine the current on-dock CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern rail terminals into one facility, and provide each railroad with nine 2,700-foot working tracks. 

“First and foremost, [Georgia Ports Authority] has made a major investment to improve the connectivity between Memphis, Chicago, and Savannah, which is an important thing because the volume to the Georgia ports has been growing,” said Michael Symonanis, director of North America Logistics for Louis Dreyfus Co. 

By doubling the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity to 2 million container units per year, the Mason Mega Rail Terminal project is expected to improve the capacity and fluidity of cargo movements to and from Memphis, according to a GPA news release. With phase one of the Mason Mega Rail now operational, CSX and Norfolk Southern are able to make cargo available for pickup in Memphis within three days of being offloaded from a vessel. 

“The Mason Mega Rail Terminal will have a tremendous impact here in Memphis,” said Randy Richardson, executive director of the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission. “Memphis is a major port of call for the Port of Savannah and we will definitely see increased numbers at the Intermodal Gateway Memphis facility in the Pidgeon Industrial area. Savannah is a major East Coast port, serving hundreds of businesses throughout Tennessee and dozens of trains carry ocean freight from.

Memphis World Trade Club president David Underwood said it’s critical to know what infrastructure developments assist the global trade flows between Memphis and the rest of the world.

“Up to 42% of the intermodal exports going through the Savannah gateway originate from the Memphis region, and fluid transportation networks between both regions is critical to the economic success of Memphis,” Underwood said.

Memphis is seen as the best example of Savannah’s market share growth. According to GPA figures, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, loaded exports from Memphis — through Savannah — grew by 24% in August compared to the same month a year ago. During fiscal year 2020 from January to August, Memphis customers accounted for 178,000, 20-foot equivalent units [TEU] of import and export rail cargo for the Port of Savannah — making it GPA’s second-busiest inland destination after Atlanta.

Lynch said GPA’s total amount of loading containers between Memphis and Savannah in August — 10,000 containers — was a 17% increase from the same period in 2019.

“This is during a time where everybody is struggling, so that is really impressive,” he said. “Just to put that in perspective, our overall business for August was up 1% year-over-year, but yet our rail business to Memphis was up 17%. … With part of the Mason Mega Rail operational and opened up, we had new customers come into Memphis and vice versa.”

Memphis exports crossing GPA docks include logs, chemicals, machinery, and cotton. Lynch said for fiscal year 2020, GPA’s cotton export through Memphis grew by 61% over the same period in 2019.

Some of the major imports that cross GPA docks on their way to Memphis includes auto parts, electronics, furniture, and apparel. Construction of the Mason Mega Rail Terminal is slated to be finished by October 2021.

“What any city — and any logistics hub like Memphis — wants is to have options for moving goods,” Lynch said. “I think what Savannah is doing right now is creating a brand new option that is probably the best option from a low-cost standpoint. Memphis is a massive location and there isn’t a lot of gateways that can successfully service Memphis in the way that we can because we are close to it.”

Plaquemines Port upgrades could enhance container on vessel shipping on Mississippi River, huge economic impact on Memphis

Via Memphis Business Journal

A proposed shipping freight terminal in Louisiana could have a multibillion-dollar upriver impact on Memphis, create thousands of jobs in the Mid-South, and lead to a flurry of other potential lucrative opportunities, according to local economic development officials.

The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County detailed how a container terminal slated for Plaquemines, Louisiana, would benefit the International Port of Memphis.

Plaquemines Port Harbor & Terminal District signed an exclusive letter of intent (LOI) on Aug. 13 with several potential partners that will result in the development of a multimodal container terminal on the Mississippi River. It could use a Port of Memphis facility as a major hub, according to EDGE.

The signing of the LOI will begin a six-month due diligence period, during which the parties would conduct multiple studies prior to deciding to investment.

The possible site for the container terminal at the Port of Memphis could be the former TVA Allen Fossil Plant near McKellar Lake Harbor.

EDGE said the container on vessel (COV) proposal would see goods moved three times faster than shipping by barge, with a significant time and cost advantage for exports and imports.

Charles Vance, EDGE director of marketing and communications, said if the river systems are connected to the Gulf of Mexico with COV shipping, with Memphis as a primary port along the route, it would have a dramatic impact on regional economy.

“It essentially provides an alternative route to reach the middle of the country rather than the West and East Coasts,” Vance said. “It would be a great benefit to manufacturers and distribution companies located here and would entice others to want to locate to this area. It would open the door to more distribution warehousing capabilities for the entire region. We would essentially have the ability to attract companies from across the world that want to do business in the middle part of the U.S.”

An analysis by Memphis’ Younger Associates estimated construction of the facility at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park would have a $1 billion, one-time economic impact from development, including supporting more than 14,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction.

Once open, the local container facility could support 3,200 total jobs, generating $200 million in direct and indirect wages, according to the study. It would also have an a $1.5 billion annual economic impact from ongoing operations.

The Louisiana terminal would encompass up to 1,000 acres and 8,200 feet of Mississippi River frontage 50 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.

Phase one of Plaquemines construction would take around two years. It would have the capability to handle 22,000-TEU class vessels, and the port could expand capacity if needed.

American Patriot Holdings (APH) also signed the LOI; its 2,375-TEU liner vessel would provide Mississippi River transports as far north as St. Louis.

The proposal has Memphis and St. Louis as primary hubs in a network that could also include Little Rock and western Arkansas; Joliet, Illinois; and Jefferson City and Kansas City, Missouri.

The International Port of Memphis is the fifth-largest inland port in the nation and has a $9.27 billion annual economic impact.


EDGE Continues to Express Interest in Former TVA Allen Fossil Plant Site

EDGE President, Reid Dulberger spoke to the TVA Board of Directors at their meeting in Oxford, Mississippi, on February 12th. He was there to express the continued interest of the city, county, EDGE and Port in working with TVA to redevelop the property at the former Allen Fossil Plant as a state-of-the-art marine multi-modal freight terminal for container and bulk products.

EDGE and the Port Commission are partnering with American Patriot Holdings and the Port of Plaquemines Parrish in Louisiana, to create a new multi-modal marine transportation network in the heart of America. The network would be powered by a new container vessel that could carry more freight and travel at higher speeds than anything currently in the river system. The Allen Fossil plant combined with land immediately north of the site would open up nearly 1,000 acres for the new terminal.

A new multi-modal freight terminal at the Port would attract related manufacturing and assembly operations, as well as additional warehouse and distribution firms to the area. The impact on the local economy would be substantial.

The Port of Memphis is the nation’s 5th largest inland port by tonnage and has direct access to 5 Class I railroads. A recent analysis showed the Port directly supports more than 9,000 jobs and has an annual economic impact of $9.3 billion.

International Port of Memphis Lands $1.7 M for Major Rail Project

The International Port of Memphis was awarded a $1.7 million Competitive Rail Connectivity Grant from the Tennessee Department of Transportation.  The grant will help expand rail service on Presidents Island at the 58-acre public terminal facility.

The project will include the construction of approximately 4,900 feet of new rail track in the terminal, plus four new switches. This will create capacity for approximately 70 additional 100-ton rail cars at the facility. The project will help companies that transfer bulk products between rail to barge.

The public terminal is an inter-modal facility that provides access to waterborne, rail, truck, and pipeline operations. The terminal was first built by the City of Memphis and Shelby County in 1951. The facility provides general cargo handling services to more than 150 industries on Presidents Island and serves more than 300 metropolitan markets that can be reached overnight by truck.

“The proposed project will enhance current industry needs and help attract new businesses that are already interested in the transportation advantages of the Memphis area,” said Randy Richardson, Vice President, Port and Industrial Properties.  “Additional rail space at the Port of Memphis also will open the Memphis area to markets in the Ohio River Valley, Midwest, and Northeast.”

The International Port of Memphis is the second largest inland port on the shallow draft portion of the Mississippi River, and the 5th largest inland Port in the United States.  The port’s industries generate more than $9.2 billion of annual economic impact.

Port Master Plan Released

There are numerous recommendations in the Port of Memphis Master Plan that are focused on maintaining and growing the level of economic impact that exist currently as a result of operations on Port jurisdiction properties.  In addition to the recommendations of industries to target as potential economic development partners, the Port Master Plan study also provides recommendations geared towards sustaining existing economic activities and enhancing future development opportunities.  In an effort to help the Port of Memphis focus on the highest and best use of existing and potential resources, the top development and maintenance action item recommendations are presented in the linked documents.

Port Master Plan Navigates the Future of Memphis Economy

Presented at a joint meeting of the Memphis & Shelby County Port Commission and EDGE, a new master plan for the Port of Memphis calls for infrastructure upgrades to Presidents Island and a short, middle, and long-range plan to help maximize the impact of 2,300 acres of under-developed industrial land in the adjacent Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park.

The plan offers recommendations for a wide array of topics, including facility expansions, property redevelopment, economic impact, and environmental analysis, as well as target tenant identification in industries such as steel finishing and production, agricultural processing and food production, intermodal logistics and distribution, waste paper and plastics recycling, and empty container or trailer pools.

Currently, the Port of Memphis supports more than 9,000 direct jobs and an additional 13,000 indirect jobs in the Memphis area with an annual economic impact of $9.3 billion to the local, regional, and statewide economies.  The potential build out of Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park could yield more than 6,000 new direct and indirect jobs, more than $655 million in additional economic impact, and approximately $8 million per year in local tax revenues.

“I believe this is a significant project for us as we seek to repurpose the port and position it for continued use and viability for the next 20 to 50 years,” said Port Commission and EDGE board member Larry Jackson.

Master Plan to Help Navigate the Future of the Port of Memphis

The EDGE Board of Directors approved a $327,500 contract for a comprehensive master plan study for the Port of Memphis.  The study will include Presidents Island, the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial area, and the McKellar Lake Harbor.  A team led by the Pickering Firm will conduct the study.

The plan will offer recommendations for a wide array of topics, including facility expansions, property redevelopment, economic impact, environmental analysis, and target tenant identification.  Pickering will also lead public meetings and presentations to collect input from key project stakeholders along with community members.  The plan will take close to six months to complete.

“I believe this is a significant project for us as we seek to repurpose the port and position it for continued use and viability for the next 20 to 50 years,” said Port Chairman and EDGE board member Johnny Moore, Jr.

Mississippi River Commission holds public meeting at Beale Street Landing

The Mississippi River Commission (MRC) held a public meeting Tuesday, March 24, on board the Motor Vessel MISSISSIPPI to discuss issues affecting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Commission programs and projects along the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

Docked at the Beale Street Landing, the public meeting was attended by representatives of the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission, the City of Memphis and various other local and state organizations.

Randy Richardson, EDGE Vice President and Executive Director of the Memphis and Shelby County Port Commission, gave a brief update of the Port.

Following the meeting, the MISSISSIPPI left for its annual High Water Inspection trip from Memphis to Tunica, MS.

For more information on the MRC and the March Public Meeting visit the MRC website.

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Patience, persistence pay off as Pidgeon nears capacity

Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park was completed in 1967, but it’s only now, four-plus decades later, that the property is finally realizing its full potential.

More than four decades after being completed, the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park is finally realizing its full potential with tenants such as Canadian National Railway Co.

The 3,500-acre industrial park was developed when Memphis and Shelby County paid roughly $4.5 million to buy the land in the late 1950s after city, county and Port Commission leaders saw the need for a large industrial park following the creation of Presidents Island.

“The concept was very innovative for its time and very impressive,” said Randy Richardson, vice president of port and industrial properties for the Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County and executive director of the Port Commission. “I’m sure at the time when they purchased it they thought it was a lot of money, but if you look at it over the long term the return on investment is significant. But you had to have the vision to look that far into the future.”

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