Georgia Ports Posts Record Volumes in April

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By The Maritime Executive 05-24-2018 01:37:00

Last month, the Georgia Ports Authority set a new cargo record for April at 3.3 million tons, exceeding last year's amount by 11 percent.

The volume increase included a seven percent increase in containerized cargo, with traffic reaching a total of 356,000 TEU - the second-busiest month in the port's history after October 2017. “We’re on track to move more than 300,000 TEUs in every month of the fiscal year, which will be a first for the Authority,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We’re also anticipating this to be the first fiscal year for the Port of Savannah to handle more than 4 million TEUs.” This rapid pace makes Savannah the fastest-growing container port in the nation: it has tripled its annual volume since 2000. “Savannah has become a magnet for containers,” said Walter Kemmsies, an economist at Jones Lang LaSalle, speaking to the New York Times. 

To sustain the growth, the port authority recently approved an investment of $66 million in new terminal upgrades, including ten new RTGs, which will bring the total at Garden City Terminal to 156. It intends to invest in 45 more over the next decade. With the addition of the next ten, the terminal will have three new container rows, increasing annual capacity by 150,000 TEU. Delivery is scheduled for the first half of 2019. 

In addition, the port's new post-Panamax STS cranes are now operational, and will enable serving shipboard container stacks to 155 feet high. Six more cranes are currently under construction and scheduled for delivery in early 2020. “The Authority is committed to building additional capacity ahead of demand to ensure the Port of Savannah remains a trusted link in the supply chain serving Georgia and the Southeast,” Lynch said.

The port is also building a $130 million rail facility that will handle unit trains on-terminal, speeding connections to the Midwest. It is also expanding its truck gates to accommodate increasing volumes of drayage traffic. 

GPA is also investing in inland infrastructure: construction on the Appalachian Regional Port - a rail-to-truck transfer facility in Georgia's rural Murray County - is nearly complete, and it will open in August. It is expected to handle about 50,000 boxes per year, taking pressure off of regional highways and facilitating economic growth in a less-developed region of the state. 

This month's volume gains were partly offset by a decline in car volumes at the port of Brunswick, one of the nation's largest ro-ro ports. Lynch said that this was not a surprise, and the authority expected volumes to be flat for ro-ro cargo. Overall ro-ro shipments are down by 2.6 percent for the fiscal year to date (July 1 - June 30).