The newly completed Pipemakers Canal overpass reduces the railroad crossings in Garden City.
Upgrade ensures free flow of vehicular, rail traffic
The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) passed another milestone for its Mason Mega Rail project on Aug. 6 with the opening of a new bridge spanning Pipemakers Canal.
Construction began in July 2019 in partnership with the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), Chatham County and the Industrial Company. The overpass will reduce the railroad crossings in Garden City and allow unimpeded operation of eight railroad tracks for the Mason Mega Rail Terminal.
“The new Georgia Highway 25 bridge over Pipemakers Canal and the new Mason Mega Rail project greatly improve the flow of goods in and out of the Port of Savannah while improving traffic in and around Garden City,” said GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry, P.E. “The efficient movement of freight is critical to Georgia’s economic growth, and infrastructure projects like these are the key to that growth. We enjoy a strong partnership with GPA that keeps Georgia moving forward.”
The $12 million Garden City bridge project, completed by The Industrial Company, rests on Highway 25 between Brampton Road and State Route 307. This upgrade replaced the existing canal bridge with a longer and wider structure to ensure the free flow of both vehicular and rail traffic. Connecting to I-516 at the south and Houlihan Bridge to the north, Highway 25/North Coastal Highway serves residential, commercial and industrial traffic along the Savannah River.
“The Mason Mega Rail Terminal is a unique project, made possible through collaboration between the Authority, local, state and federal governments,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We appreciate the valuable role our partners play in increased efficiency for both local traffic and supply chain logistics.”
The overpass is an important part of the broader Mason Mega Rail project. At approximately 85 acres, Mason Mega Rail will be the nation’s largest on-dock intermodal facility, increasing the number of working tracks at Garden City Terminal from eight to 18.
The new rail infrastructure will enable Savannah’s two Class I rail providers – CSX and Norfolk Southern – to build and receive 10,000-foot-long trains less than 1,500 yards from GPA’s docks. By loading whole trains for specific destinations, GPA will be able to deliver faster and more frequent rail service to markets along the Mid-American Arc from Memphis to Chicago and the Ohio River Valley.
The first bundle of new working tracks went into use this year. On July 1, GPA commissioned its first two rail-mounted gantry cranes to work the terminal. Spanning nine tracks, the machines speed the transition of containers between trains and trucks. The new RMGs are the first of 10 that will serve the rail yard.
When complete, the expansion will add 97,000 feet of new rail track at Garden City Terminal, for a total of nearly 180,000 feet, or 34 miles, of on-terminal track. Mason Mega Rail will double GPA’s on-terminal rail capacity to 2 million TEUs per year.