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Georgia Ports Authority Plans $430M Upgrade to Savannah Container Port

Wed June 01, 2022 - Southeast Edition
Georgia Ports Authority & The Center Square

Georgia Ports Authority is expanding berth and container yard capacity in Savannah to accommodate growing business. (Photo courtesy of  Georgia Ports)
Georgia Ports Authority is expanding berth and container yard capacity in Savannah to accommodate growing business. (Photo courtesy of Georgia Ports)

Due to an increase in business at the Port of Savannah, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) plans to spend approximately $430 million to make major capacity and infrastructure improvements at the city's shipyards.

Of that total, GPA is covering $395.4 million, funded through the authority's proceeds. The federal government is chipping in an additional $34.6 million grant, The Center Square reported May 19.

The news comes as the port announced it had handled 495,782 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in April, a port record for the month when GPA's containerized trade increased 6.2 percent. It also represented GPA's third busiest month ever.

The growth is related in part to retailers replenishing depleted inventories and making early orders to ensure product availability, GPA noted. For the fiscal year to date, GPA has handled 4.75 million TEUs, an improvement of 8 percent or 344,260 TEUs year over year.

The Authority recently said that its Garden City Terminal now handles almost one out of every nine loaded containers crossing docks nationwide.

"The phenomenal growth we have achieved has been made possible by the team effort of GPA and Gateway Terminals employees, the International Longshoremen's Association, and our partners in trucking and rail," GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said in a statement. "Their hard work has ensured the free flow of cargo between major markets across the U.S. Southeast and the world."

Port Upgrades Made to Assist Workload

At a meeting of the GPA Board in mid-May, several topics regarding the Port of Savannah's capacity improvements were discussed, including:

  • The renovations to Container Berth 1 (CB-1) at the Garden City Terminal are more than 40 percent complete. The realigned CB-1 will increase annual berth capacity by 1.4 million TEUs and provide an additional big ship berth served by new ship-to-shore cranes. Substantial completion is expected in June 2023.
  • The Authority expects to bring online nine new electric rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes by the spring of 2023. This will bring the Port of Savannah's total RTG fleet to 207.
  • The Peak Capacity Project has added 900,000 TEUs of annual container yard capacity to Garden City Terminal as of April 13. Another 300,000 TEUs of capacity are expected to come online by July.
  • Phase I of the Garden City Terminal West project will add a 25-acre chassis yard next to Ga. Highway 21. Grading and placement of aggregate base are ongoing, with the contractor having turned over approximately 10 acres of space for use in February. Construction should be complete by mid-summer.
  • Phase II of the Garden City Terminal West project will add a total of one million TEUs of annual capacity, with the first phase coming online in 2023.
  • Down the Georgia coast at GPA's Port of Brunswick, the Mayor's Point Terminal will get a replacement of a 50,000 sq.-ft. cargo shed with a new, 100,000 sq.-ft. warehouse with modern life safety improvements and flooring upgrades to handle heavy cargoes.

"Our long-running program of infrastructure expansion, coupled with the Authority's ability as an owner-operator to speed up the schedule of development, has allowed the Port of Savannah to adapt to heightened container volumes," GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten said in an Authority news release. "On-terminal and inland capacity improvements enable cargo to flow across our docks without congestion."

Savannah was recently ranked the top U.S. container port by loaded export volume, handling 1.38 million TEUs in Calendar Year 2021, according to GPA.

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