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Port of Savannah overcomes ‘serious headwinds’ to land cargo record

Georgia Ports Authority reports 20% year-over-year volume hike to 5.6 million TEUs

Cargo import and export Georgia Ports Authority’s at the Garden City Terminal, Friday, June 18, 2021, in Garden City, Georgia. (Photo: GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

The Port of Savannah handled record volumes in 2021, moving 5.6 million twenty-foot equivalent units and sending volumes up 20% year-over-year.

The sizable increase comes as the port experienced 12 consecutive months of record container growth, the Georgia Ports Authority said. 

East Coast ports, including Savannah, have served as an alternative to the congested Southern California ports, although some East Coast ports experienced congestion of their own in 2021.

Volumes at the Colonel’s Island Terminal in Brunswick increased by 10.6% in 2021, with the terminal handling 649,550 units of cars, trucks and machinery. 

Intermodal rail volumes rose by 10% at the Port of Savannah to nearly 1 million TEUs, which is a record. GPA said it added nine working tracks in November, which increased the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity by 30% to 2 million TEUs per year. Through this, the port will be able to build and receive six 10,000-foot-long trains simultaneously. 

Meanwhile, December was also a record month, with the Port of Savannah handling 465,000 TEUs, which is about 4% higher year-over-year. The port also experienced an “all-time high” of 312,000 truck gate moves last month.

“Our expanded rail and yard capacity, along with new operational practices, allowed GPA to overcome serious headwinds in the international supply chain,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch in a Tuesday release. “The team — including our GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association, stevedores, shipping lines, pilots, motor carriers and rail — came together to handle an unprecedented level of business last year.”

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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.