Mike Klein Online

More Robust Rail Strategy Anticipated in State Freight Plan

Mike Klein

Georgia has many transportation challenges but with an eye on simplicity, you can group them into about two categories: moving people through congested urban areas and moving freight everywhere.  The idea is you want to minimize how often people and freight compete in the same space.

Governor Nathan Deal is expected to discuss state freight transportation strategy during his keynote address Wednesday morning at the fourth annual Georgia Logistics Summit in Atlanta.  The strategy with all its detail is targeted for release at this month’s Department of Transportation board meeting.

Georgia transportation assets include the Brunswick and Savannah ports, thousands of rail miles, the Atlanta international airport and interstate highways that bisect nearly every section of the state.

Transportation challenges include better access for moving freight at those ports, better use of those rail lines, ensuring that air cargo can move easily around airports and – here’s the big one – bypassing Atlanta when trucks carrying freight do not need to be in conflict with metropolitan commuters.

One long haul freight strategy is a western bypass along state Route 27 that would create a loop from near Macon to Chattanooga.  The bypass would alleviate congestion caused by long haul truckers who use Interstates 75, 85 and 285 for north – south transit.   Another strategy is the Fall Line Freeway option that could create a middle Georgia freight hub between Columbus, Macon and Augusta.

Page Siplon, Executive Director, Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics

“Logistics impacts more than just trucking and rail,” said Page Siplon, executive director at the Center of Innovation for Logistics.  “It impacts us as individuals.  I joke when I do presentations, who here in the room is involved in logistics and a few people raise their hands.  Then I say who here has ever bought anything?  Then I say the folks who raised their hands the second time are more important than the folks who raised their hands the first time.”

Siplon said freight strategy proposals will include a more robust reliance on rail than seen in earlier state plans.  “We know there’s no silver bullet, but if we’re going to move cargo efficiently, railroads become increasingly important,” Siplon said.  “The plan reflects that.”  He described the next plan as “all very big number items, billions and billions of dollars that need to be invested.  This is not a one year strategy.  This is a looking out to the year 2050 kind of thing.”

Georgia’s fourth Logistics Summit will draw 1,600 attendees from 28 states and seven countries.  About 400 primarily Georgia based attendees were at the first summit three years ago.  The event moved from Atlantic Station to the Cobb Galleria Centre when attendance jumped to 800 in 2010.  It was back in Cobb last spring when 1,200 attended.  Now it has moved to the World Congress Center.  Sold out with 1,600 registered, there also is a 200-person waiting list.

“State agencies don’t generally have conferences that draw people from all over the world,” said Siplon, “We talk about that a lot.”  The Center is attached to the state Department of Economic Development.  Its primary office is on the Georgia Tech campus in Savannah.  MODEX 2012 – a giant supply chain solutions conference – is also being held at the World Congress Center this week.

 (Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

February 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Georgia Public – Private Partners Launch Internet Shipping Marketplace

Mike Klein

The next big thing in logistics (that means moving stuff from one place to another) might already have happened right here in Georgia.  Georgiafreight.com is a coordinated marketplace of transportation options for moving anything from here to there or almost anywhere.

It exists entirely on the Internet, it’s easy to use (even I was able to understand it) and here’s the best news yet, it comes with a whole bunch of built-in discounts. You can get discounts for being a Georgia company and for shipping from one Georgia address to another.

Georgiafreight.com is a project of Efreightsolutions, a private company, but it was hatched with lots of assistance from the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics which is headquartered on the Georgia Tech campus in Savannah.  It received a big boost forward from Kennesaw State University president Dan Papp who connected Efreightsolutions and the Innovations Center.

“It’s an online freight portal and there are lots of them out there, but what was lacking was a focus on Georgia,” said Page Siplon, director of the state’s Center of Innovation for Logistics.  This online model provides several tiers of service and lots of options for moving product by air, rail, truck or water.  Siplon said the model could soon be expanded to California and New York.

The Georgiafreight.com story will be center stage when the 2011 Georgia Logistics Summit convenes over two days next week at the Cobb Galleria Centre in Atlanta.  But the company’s ability to help industries move products will be just one reason that it makes headlines.

Using its own private funds, Georgiafreight.com will make program awards to five Georgia universities that offer logistics education.  Siplon said the company will also announce an inaugural Logistics and Community Leadership Award to a person (or persons) for work within the industry and dedication to foster care programs.  University and personal award recipients will be honored during Monday evening’s reception at the Cobb Galleria Centre.

Page Siplon

Next Tuesday’s daylong third annual Georgia Logistics Summit is rapidly becoming a must-attend event for private industry and public stakeholders.  Siplon launched the event as a 2009 luncheon and 450 attended.  “We knew we were onto something,” Siplon said.  Last year it moved to the Cobb Galleria and attendance doubled.  Some 1,200 are registered for Tuesday.

The entire reason the conference exists is to explain how Georgia can move products.  “It’s a complicated industry so when you say logistics, a lot of things come to mind,” Siplon said.  “What was lacking was a place where all those people could get together and talk.”

Tuesday scheduled keynote speakers include Jack Wells, chief economist for the U.S. Department of Transportation.  Wells will meet with Georgia Ports Authority executives on Monday in Savannah before his conference address on Tuesday in Atlanta.

The Savannah River and harbor deepening project remains the biggest elephant in the room. Georgia needs to dredge the river from its current 42-foot depth to 48 feet to accommodate larger ships that will begin to navigate the new Panama Canal in three years.  Project cost is estimated at $500-to-$600 million, to be shared between Georgia and the federal government.

Georgia has already committed its share of about 25 percent, but Washington has not followed suit.  “Yes, that is probably the most visible project because it affects so many things,” Siplon said.  “It is a project we are going to have to fund one way or another.  Georgia is at the crossroads of global commerce.  We shouldn’t have to beg for resources to do that.”

Here is a video about the economic impact of the Georgia ports in Savannah and Brunswick.

Tuesday’s conference will include breakout sessions on air freight, agribusiness, energy, life sciences, manufacturing and ocean freight.  Other scheduled speakers include Governor Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Georgia Ports Authority executive director Curtis Foltz, state economic development commissioner Chris Cummiskey, state transportation commissioner Vance Smith and logistics industry executives.

Click here to learn more about the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Savannah Harbor Just One Among Many Logistics Priorities

This article was written for and published by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

Think about this image.  You are traveling down one of Georgia’s splendid highways and suddenly a train carrying coal hurtles past in a near-blur.  High speed rail discussion is usually about moving people.  But how about moving coal and other cargo at high speeds?  “Definitely we could and we should,” says Page Siplon, executive director at the Georgia Center of Innovation for Logistics.

Most folks don’t associate coal with Georgia, but they should.  Rail cars haul more than 40 million tons of black gold across the state per year.  That is 800% more tonnage than grain, the next closest product.

These are the kinds of ideas that keep Siplon busy.  His focus is how to move products at time and price points that enable businesses to deliver their promised goods.  His goal is to make certain Georgia does it better than not just other southern states, but every other state, especially those with ocean ports. Continue reading

April 26, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment