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Freight Economy

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FHWA's Roundtable on the Freight Economy: Atlanta, Georgia

Date: February 9, 2016

Our Host: Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce

Key Regional Transportation Facilities and Freight Hubs

HIGHWAYSI-75 S of I-285, I-675 S of I-285, SR 155 @ I-75, Fulton Industrial Blvd S of I-20, Peachtree Industrial and I-85 N of I-285
RAILROADSCSX Hulsey and Fairburn, NS Austell and Inman
AIRPORTSHartsfield Air Cargo Operations
SEAPORTSSavannah and New Brunswick

Freight Facilities

A map of the state of Georgia showing the following facilities: airports, marine/inland ports, intermodal terminals, bulk transload, large carload yards, NS & CSX railroads, interstates, and county borders.

Source: GDOT

Stakeholders Represented by the Following:

What the future of freight will look like for the region:

Top 5 Commodities by Value 2040

Commodity Value (millions $) % of total
Machinery 235,117 18%
Electronics 145,244 11%
Pharmaceuticals 120,152 9%
Precision instruments 119,175 9%
Motorized vehicles 110,233 8%
All commodities 1,339,220 100%

Top 5 Commodities by Weight 2040

Commodity Tons (thousands) % of total
Gravel 76,052 13%
Nonmetal min. prods. 49,398 9%
Waste/scrap 44,893 8%
Mixed freight 33,556 6%
Gasoline 26,861 5%
All commodities 571,048 100%

Trading Partners 2040

Outbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Georgia 24,240 19%
Alabama 11,114 9%
Florida 9,693 8%
North Carolina 8,922 7%
Tennessee 7,661 6%
Total outbound 124,465 100%

Inbound by Weight of Shipment
(thousand tons)

Trade partner Tonnage % of total
Georgia 24,071 12%
Alabama 18,512 9%
Tennessee 17,567 9%
Michigan 14,535 7%
Texas 11,254 5%
Total inbound 205,153 100%

*2012 from FAF4, 2040 from FAF3

Modal Freight Share by Tonnage, 2012 and 2045

2012: Truck 83.9%, Rail 8.6%, Water 0.0%, Air 0.2%, Multiple mode/Mail 3.4%, Pipeline 3.8%, Other/unknown 0.1%.  2040: Truck 86.7%, Rail 4.8%, Water 0.0%, Air 0.2%, Multiple mode/Mail 4.2%, Pipeline 2.5%, Other/unknown 1.5%.  Freight demand expected to grow from 256 million tons (2012) to 571 million tons (2040).

The Atlanta Region may experience three times more freight truck traffic on the interstate system in 2040 than today.

The majority of Atlanta's freight activity is domestic (81% by value and 93% by tonnage). International freight will grow in importance by 2020.

The majority of Atlanta's truck traffic serves local/regional markets (approximately 60%), highlighting Atlanta’s role as a distribution center and southeastern regional market hub.

The Atlanta region represents the 7th highest volume of freight tonnage among U.S. metropolitan markets.

Atlanta has a higher share of freight activity moving by truck (84%) as compared to the nation (70%; tonnage based).

Rail currently accounts for 9% of Atlanta's freight tonnage but plays an important role in key sectors (feedstock, electric utilities, and international trade).

Atlanta's freight activity and regional freight role is closely connected to the Port of Savannah which is the primary deepwater port serving the region.

Atlanta's warehouses and distribution centers are clustered in Fulton and Gwinnett counties and along the I-85 corridor. These centers support a range of sectors but especially: consumer retail, food, and industrial.

Key freight bottlenecks in the Atlanta region are: the I-85 / I-285 Interchange and the I-75 / I-285 interchange. These are also included in the top twenty worst interchange bottlenecks in the U.S.

Freight is an economic driver for the Atlanta region, accounting for more than 100,000 direct jobs throughout the twenty-county region.

A 20% decrease in trucking employment is estimated to cause a $6 billion decrease in Atlanta’s Gross Regional Product (GRP).

Sources for Freight Facts: FAF and ARC

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Page last modified on October 14, 2016
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