Like many Georgia communities, Cordele was shut-out of recent transportation grant funding. But that’s not stopping an inland port project in southwest Georgia.
What’s missing from that project’s plans now—more than $30 million worth of upgrades and repair on rail lines between Cordele and Savannah. But officials say the project will now rely on $4.5 million in smaller grants expected to be approved in the next 45 days.
The intermodal facility has been in the works for some time. When operational, it will be able to accept freight containers from Savannah's port by rail. Once in Cordele, freight can be loaded to trucks for distribution to points west, south and north. The port would also take in containers from trucks, and send it to coastal Georgia. Officials say with fewer trucks needed to move containers, the facility would relieve congestion on area roads.
Bruce Drennan is executive director of the Cordele-Crisp County Industrial Development Council. He says the facility will be a boon for the state once it’s up-and-running in December.
"This inland port really and truly provides competition for Savannah with Mobile, New Orleans, and in some cases the Houston ports. Containers coming into those ports that can now come to Savannah more economically than going to Mobile."
Drennan says the economic benefits for southwest Georgia would include thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in investment. He says because of that, it will change the region "forever".
The planned Cordele port is modeled after one in Front Royal, Va. Drennan says that facility has had a direct impact of 15,000 jobs on the communities in that Virginia-region.