Railroad, Port and Freight Update

From my days working for the Secretary of Transportation in Virginia, I retain a strong interest in freight, which is a major component of Georgia’s economy. The items below are par of my weekend political news summary, but I thought they’re interesting enough to share here.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Andrusia. Click it for more of his railroad photos.

Norfolk and Western locomotive 1776 was originally painted red, white and blue to celebrate our nation’s bicentennial. It currently belongs to the Virginia Museum of Transportation, where it is kept on display. It has recently been moved to the NS paint shops in Chattanooga for a repaint. With the simple addition of the Georgia coat of arms to the front hood inside the circle of stars, it would look just like our state flag. I wonder if Senator Jeff Mullis (R-Upper Left Hand Corner) can make that happen.

The Georgia Department of Transportation and Department of Economic Development released a report that details the state’s priorities for expanding the intermodal freight system. Included in the report are the fact that the logistics industry contributes 18 percent of Georgia’s gross state product, and includes more than 5000 companies employing more than 110,000 Georgians and generating $50 billion in annual sales.

Norfolk Southern has delivered some of the heaviest components for Plant Vogtle nuclear reactor units 3 and 4. The 3600-ton steam condenser is arriving in pieces as prefabricated parts. The parts are transferred through the Port of Savannah after an ocean voyage from Korea.

January saw drops in total imports for most US Ports, but the Port of Savannah saw a 3 percent increase, while February and March are expected to continue the trend of increasing freight traffic there.

The largest ship ever to call on the Port of Savannah arrived yesterday and is expected to leave today. MCS Roma could only call on the port and depart with a partial load and near high tide because of the need to deepen the river channel that allows access to the port. Here’s a video of the ship. Roma will become a frequent caller at Savannah, as its owner has added it to regular service between Asia and Georgia.

Earlier this week, United States Senators Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss briefed Acting U.S. Deputy Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and its needed role in creating jobs in Georgia during a tour of the facility. Blank said. “The Port of Savannah is an important part of that bi-partisan priority. I enjoyed learning about the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project firsthand. Building a state-of-the-art, modern port is key to creating an economy that’s built to last.”


  1. Senator Maglev cares not one whit for any train not powered by magnets. In 2009 the GDOT-owned rails through his own district were washed out by record floods, and our powerful Senator, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, said the local companies dependent on those rails were SOL and should wait on FEMA for help. After five months of paying to have starch trucked down from Chattanooga to Summerville, Mt. Vernon Mills (the largest non-governmental employer in Mullis’ four-county district) paid out of pocket to have the rail line rebuilt.

    In other train news… Norfolk-Southern is going to repaint some of its locos in “heritage fleet” colors and logos. Not modernized versions like Union Pacific, but the originals. Georgia lines represented will be Southern (of course), Central of Georgia, Savannah & Atlanta, and the TAG Line. http://trn.trains.com/en/Railroad%20News/News%20Wire/2012/02/Norfolk%20Southern%20to%20debut%20heritage%20fleet.aspx

    — LU

  2. peachstealth says:

    Wasn’t there once a plan to build a barge canal between the Flint at Cordele and the Ocmulgee at Abbeville thus connecting Appalachacola with Brunswick-Darien?

    • Calypso says:

      I don’t know about this one, but check with Florida to see how well the idea of a barge canal worked for them.

      • saltycracker says:

        Florida – failed idea – still spending and fighting in courts to restore the river

        Tenn-Tom – $2 billion – if any barge canal had potential this had to be it & after 20 yrs. + it is still a hot topic and called a boondoogle as the freight volume, coal primarily I think, didn’t pan out

        Freight potential is always way overestimated on these projects but just the costs & environmental concerns alone would make a barge canal very, very, dificult & expensive.

        The trucking companies and maybe railroads, are ready & capable.

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