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Port of Savannah on track for record September

Inland terminal in northwest Georgia also setting milestones

Rail-mounted gantry cranes transfer containers at the Mason Mega Rail Terminal at the Port of Savannah. (Photo: GPA/Jeremy Polston)

September isn’t in the books yet, but the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) already is figuring it has been a record month.

The GPA issued a press release Monday in which it said the Port of Savannah was on track to achieve a monthly record for September by moving more than 400,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). This follows all-time record volumes in August.

“We frankly didn’t anticipate growth for the months of August and September, but we are gratified by the loyalty of our customers and the dedication of our employees,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch in the statement. “Although there is still much work to be done, Savannah’s status as the Number 1 export port means it will play a critical role in the nation’s economic recovery.”

Based on cargo bookings, the GPA was projecting more than 5% year-over-year growth in September. 

It’s been a tough year for U.S. ports, now eager to share good news. Earlier in the year, the GPA was battening down for a May with 37 blanked sailings. In a normal May, there are no canceled calls at Georgia’s ports. 

“There are going to be two tough months at the end of our fiscal year,” Lynch said then.

Despite coronavirus-caused supply chain disruptions, the GPA ended the fiscal year June 30 down only 1% from the previous year. 

Much of the success was attributed to the Appalachian Regional Port (ARP), the GPA’s inland terminal in northwest Georgia, which handled more than three and a half times the cargo during the 2020 fiscal year than it did the year before. 

The GPA said this week that the ARP also had record volumes in August, with similar results expected for September. The ARP nearly doubled its cargo for August to 6,156 TEUs, the GPA said. 

The GPA board on Monday approved adding six container storage bays — 230 TEU slots — to handle additional demand at the inland terminal. The bays, which will be added by the end of the year, will increase ARP’s annual capacity by 15,000 TEUs. 

The GPA said the inland terminal provides an alternative to an all-truck tray to and from the Port of Savannah for target miles in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. Each round-trip container offsets 710 truck miles on Georgia highways, according to the GPA. 

GE Appliances recently opened a $32 million logistics center in Murray County, Georgia, just two miles from the ARP. And Huali Floors, a manufacturer of resilient flooring, has announced plans to establish its first U.S. headquarters and manufacturing facility there. 

The GPA said other ongoing projects to increase capacity include the Savannah Harbor expansion project, now 75% complete, and the Mason Megal Rail Terminal, which is nearly 50% finished. The port authority recently reconfigured a portion of the Garden City Terminal yard to add more than 11,000 TEUs of container storage and purchased an adjacent parcel to increase the size of the terminal to 1,345 acres. 

Savannah volume down just 1% and total tonnage a record

Canceled calls signal ‘two really tough months’ for Georgia ports

Georgia ports don’t foresee volume bounceback anytime soon

Click for more American Shipper/FreightWaves stories by Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills.

One Comment

  1. Brian H.

    Hopefully the Savannah Harbor expansion can help to bring more ships/containers into the Garden City Terminal. Savannah has been hit hard economically (from lack of tourism due to COVID) and the much needed jobs/revenue can’t come soon enough!

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Kim Link Wills

Senior Editor Kim Link-Wills has written about everything from agriculture as a reporter for Illinois Agri-News to zoology as editor of the Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine. Her work has garnered awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Magazine Association of the Southeast. Prior to serving as managing editor of American Shipper, Kim spent more than four years with XPO Logistics.