Watch Now

Port of Savannah plans to boost container capacity by 60%

Projects already underway will add 1.7 million TEUs in 4 months

Eight cranes begin work on the 13,000 TEU container ship Ulsan Express at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City Terminal on Feb. 2 in Savannah, Georgia. (Photo: GPA/Stephen B. Morton)

Georgia Ports Authority has unveiled a plan to increase container capacity at the Port of Savannah by 60%, from the current 6 million twenty-foot equivalent units to 9.5 million TEUs by 2025.

A number of projects are already underway to reach this goal, port officials said. About 400,000 TEUs of capacity was just added at the Garden City Terminal, which will add an additional 820,000 by June, while a new upriver container yard will yield another 500,000 TEUs in capacity. These projects will add 1.72 million TEUs in fourth months. Also, the Garden City Terminal West project will bring in up to 1 million TEUs by 2024.

The capacity expansion comes as vessel operators and their customers seek alternatives to the West Coast ports, which have become congested over the past year amid strong consumer demand and equipment and labor shortages brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) noted earlier this month that the Port of Savannah has seen 18 consecutive months of growth, moving a record 5.6 million TEUs in 2021, a 20% increase from 2020.

“Our expansion is being matched by incredible growth in both warehouse space and workforce,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a Thursday statement marking the port authority’s report citing 2021 highlghts. “The public and private investment that we’re seeing, as well as the number of people being drawn to the business, make Savannah the hottest market in the country for transportation and logistics.”

Among GPA’s highlights for 2021 were six new pop-up container yards, which added 500,000 TEUs of annual container space, as well as 1,200 new drivers and 370 trucking companies serving the Garden City Terminal.

The Port of Savannah also anticipates a number of physical enhancements, including a “super-sizing” of Berth 1, which will increase on-dock capacity by 25% and expand berth capacity by an estimated 1.5 million TEUs. Meanwhile, the Savannah Harbor expansion project, coming online in March, will deepen the river channel and allow vessels with a capacity of 16,000 TEUs or more to enter the channel.

These improvements come as the Savannah market added 6.5 million square feet of industrial space in 2021, upping that total to 84 million, according to GPA, quoting Colliers International.

Subscribe to FreightWaves’ e-newsletters and get the latest insights on freight right in your inbox.

Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

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.