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Port of Savannah marks 19th month of higher container volumes

Georgia Ports Authority to expedite more than $538 million in infrastructure investments

Vessels line up at the Port of Brunswick. (Photo: (GPA/Stephen Morton)

For the 19th straight month, container volume at the Port of Savannah was higher on a monthly basis compared with the prior year, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.

February was the latest month in which there were year-over-year gains. The Port of Savannah handled 460,413 twenty-foot equivalent units last month, up 17.8% from February 2021.

Because of the sustained year-over-year gains, the GPA has decided to expedite more than $538 million in capacity expansion projects. That amount equates to 33% of the $1.6 billion that GPA has spent on new infrastructure over the past decade in a bid to strengthen Georgia’s position as the gateway to the U.S. Southeast and beyond, officials said.

“Today’s action by the board will result in an unprecedented expansion, ensuring our ability to implement flexible solutions to meet our customers’ evolving needs,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch on Tuesday. “This growth plan is part of an overall strategy to enhance operations, accommodate increased demand and deliver the world-class service and reliability that have become synonymous with GPA.”

Major investments at the ports of Brunswick and Savannah will help increase annual capacity at the Port of Savannah from 6 million TEUs to 9.5 million TEUs by 2025. Funding will come through a combination of bonds and internal GPA capital.

The expansions come as East Coast ports brace for higher volumes in the coming months. Liner services have been increasingly bypassing the Pacific gateways of Los Angeles and Long Beach for the East Coast, FreightWaves recently reported.

The projects include:

  • The development of 85 additional acres at the Port of Brunswick. The development will include vehicle processing facilities, as well as new pavement and buildings slated to be complete in 2023. Another 355 acres at Colonel’s Island Terminal has been permitted for development.
  • An expansion at the Garden City Terminal West, where there are currently six temporary pop-up yards servicing inland markets. The expansion entails adding 90 acres of container storage, a truck gate and rubber-tired gantry cranes, all of which will help increase the Port of Savannah’s annual capacity by 1 million TEUs in phases through 2023 and 2024.
  • The construction of a truck gate and access road linking the Garden City Terminal to another 90-acre parcel upriver. 
  • The construction of a transloading facility with a cross-docking warehouse so that customers can move cargo directly from the docks to destination markets or distribution centers. Construction is expected to be complete by 2023.
  • The addition of seven new ship-to-shore cranes at the Port of Savannah, which will bring the fleet total to 42 cranes. 

Just last week, GPA announced that the deepening of the Savannah harbor has been completed. 

“With the completion of the Savannah harbor deepening, we have the water depth to more easily accommodate big ships,” Lynch said Tuesday. “Our current projects will complement the harbor expansion by giving us the landside capacity we need to handle larger container volumes.”

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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.