Georgia Ports Authority is closing in on the four-million TEU mark for container volume, posting a record 3.85 million TEU for FY2017 – cementing its status as the busiest container port in the southeast U.S.
“We’re expanding on all fronts,” said executive director Griff Lynch in his annual State of the Port address, delivered Thursday at the Propeller Club in Savannah. “We’re adding market share through organic growth and the addition of new accounts, and we’re building the new infrastructure necessary to continue processing this cargo with world-class efficiency.”
The port's success is attracting large e-commerce outfits to the region. Noble House, a national furniture supplier, will soon build a 630,000 square-foot facility to serve the eastern half of the U.S., while home accessories company Best Choice will build 345,000 square feet. These announcements are in addition to three million square feet of distribution center space completed within the last year and five million more that are currently under construction. All this new activity will bring Savannah’s industrial space inventory to more than 57 million square feet. Despite the rapid pace of construction, the availability of square footage in Savannah remains at a rock-bottom low of two percent thanks to strong demand.
To support continued growth and deliver more efficient access to inland markets, GPA intends to add more on-terminal track at the Garden City Terminal to handle two-mile-long unit trains. Construction will begin in 2018 and finish towards the end of 2020, with a total cost in the range of $130 million. The Port of Savannah also has 10 giant STS cranes on order, which will increase its total by more than a third and allow it to handle up to 1,300 boxes per hour. Outside the terminal, the state is spending billions on highway infrastructure to better connect the Port of Savannah with the interstate system, and the Corps of Engineers and GPA are in the middle of a harbor-deepening project to bring Savannah's channel depth to 49 feet, enough to accommodate fully-loaded Neopanamax ships.