Georgia to beef up capacity as container volumes soar

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Four new rubber tire gantry cranes sail past Historic River Street on board the vessel Sampogracht on the way to being delivered to the Georgia Ports AuthorityÕs Garden City Terminal, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021, at the Garden City Terminal.  (GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton)

A total of 504,350 TEU crossed the Port of Savannah’s docks in October, an increase of 8.7% or 40,250 TEU compared to October 2020.

The performance surpassed the Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) previous all-time record of 498,000 TEU set in March.

At the GPA Board meeting 6 December, Executive Director Griff Lynch detailed actions that will expedite the completion of 1.6 million TEU in annual capacity.

By January, GPA will open 670,000 TEUs of new annual capacity at Garden City Terminal. In early March, 155,000 TEUs of additional terminal capacity will be available, and by June another 850,000 TEUs will come online at the port.

The projects will deliver a total capacity increase of 25% in six months.

Also at its meeting Monday, the GPA Board approved the $24.4 million purchase of nine electric-powered rubber-tyred gantry cranes that will help support the expansion.

Off-terminal, GPA is growing by another half-million TEU in annual capacity by expanding its inland port strategy to include flexible “pop-up” container yards near manufacturing and distribution centers.

GPA has activated the yards in partnership with its two Class I rail providers, CSX and Norfolk Southern, as well as regional property owners.

Four locations in Atlanta, Savannah, Statesboro, and Murray County in Northwest Georgia are up and running and increasing capacity by reducing unnecessary container storage time on Garden City Terminal.

The new facilities will also reduce truck traffic: the new Atlanta yard could avoid more than 500 roundtrip truck miles per box, with anticipated volumes of 1,200 containers a month. The GPA is also arranging additional sites, which will bring the total added capacity for this new supply chain program to 500,000 TEU.

Lynch said with the new capacity arriving and customers clearing cargo more quickly, the Port of Savannah has already seen a dramatic drop in the length of time containers are on terminal. He said the number of import containers on port for more than four weeks has dropped by 53% compared to September.

“Moving more than half a million TEU across our docks in one month is the result of new capacity already coming online and the incredible teamwork of GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association and port customers,” Lynch said.

“After our busiest month ever in October, this new container space is coming online just in time,” added GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten.

“By expediting the projects needed to ensure the free flow of cargo, we’re addressing our customers’ concerns today, and working to re-establish our longtime practice of keeping capacity 20% above current demand.”

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