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Georgia ports reach all-time record in May

Strong consumer demand and retail imports help lift volumes higher

The Port of Savannah's Garden City Terminal berth 1. (Photo: Georgia Ports Authority)

The Georgia Ports Authority hit an all-time volume record in May, moving 519,390 twenty-foot equivalent units and breaking a previous record of 504,350 TEUs set last October.

May’s volumes were also 8.5% higher year-over-year.

The diversion of vessels to the Port of Savannah from West Coast ports and other East Coast ports may have contributed to May’s volumes, with the Garden City Terminal handling more business in recent weeks, especially when compared to the volume spike last fall, according to GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. 

Garden City Terminal has also had its capacity expanded by 900,000 TEUs as of April, with another 300,000 TEUs anticipated to come online in July. After the expansion, the terminal will have more than 7 million TEUs of container handling space.

“Strong consumer demand continues to drive higher volumes at the Port of Savannah,” Lynch said in a release. “The infrastructure improvements and pop-up yards approved by the GPA board have enabled our operations to maintain the flow of cargo across our terminal, despite unprecedented container volumes passing through the port.”

Other expansion projects to increase container space are continuing and aimed at supporting industries such as auto manufacturing, agriculture and retail. The first phase of the Garden City Terminal West expansion added a 25-acre container yard adjacent to busy trucking route Georgia Highway 21, while phase 2 will add up to 1 million TEUs of annual capacity. Phase 2 should come online in 2023, according to GPA.

GPA also in May saw breakbulk cargo grow by 28% to 320,722 tons. Breakbulk commodities include iron and steel, rubber and forest products. 

GPA’s all-time record in May comes as other East Coast ports reached milestones during the month. 

The Port of Virginia said last week it processed more than 314,000 TEUs in May, which is the highest volume in the port’s history and beats a prior record set in December 2021, while South Carolina Ports said May was the 15th consecutive month of cargo records at the Port of Charleston. Sustained retail imports helped the Port of Charleston experience a nearly 11% year-over-year increase in volumes, with May volumes totaling 255,104 TEUs.

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Joanna Marsh

Joanna is a Washington, DC-based writer covering the freight railroad industry. She has worked for Argus Media as a contributing reporter for Argus Rail Business and as a market reporter for Argus Coal Daily.