Record Throughput at Port of Savannah

Photo courtesy Georgia Ports Authority / Stephen B. Morton

The Port of Savannah moved a record 4.5 million TEU in its fiscal year ending June 30, an increase of more than 305,000 TEUs or 7.3 percent compared to the previous year, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) said Tuesday.

The increase in throughput was boosted by an uptick in rail cargo.

“Our ports are firing on all cylinders,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This success is a testament to the men and women who work throughout our entire supply chain and make a difference for Georgia and the nation every day. Because of their commitment, our factories, farms and logistics providers are creating opportunity and prosperity in every corner of our state.”

For the first time ever, GPA handled more than half a million container lifts to rail for an increase of 16.6 percent. The 506,707 intermodal boxes constituted more than 20 percent of total containers, another record, the GPA said.

“The Authority’s investment in the Mason Mega Rail project is coming just in time for our capacity to stay ahead of demand, ensuring the free flow of intermodal cargo,” said Will McKnight, GPA’s Board Chairman. “The first phase of the project will be complete this year, cutting rail transit time to Midwestern markets by 24 hours.”

The Mason Mega Rail project, which will double Savannah’s rail capacity and create the largest on-terminal intermodal facility in North America, is now 35 percent complete. By 2021, the new facility will be able to handle 1 million containers per year.

“Our team on the terminal – GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association, and our two Class 1 rail providers, CSX and Norfolk Southern – are moving more freight faster and more efficiently than ever before in our history,” said Griff Lynch, GPA’s Executive Director. “Rail cargo is expanding at twice the rate of our overall container trade, reducing congestion on our highways and increasing Georgia’s reach to a mid-American arc of cities, including Chicago, St. Louis and Columbus, Ohio.”

At the Port of Brunswick, 613,680 autos and machinery units crossed the docks at Colonel’s Island Terminal, GPA’s main port for the import-export of cars, trucks and tractors. Roll-on/Roll-off cargo grew by 4 percent in FY2019.

“Brunswick’s proximity to dealerships across the region, the ease of doing business in Georgia and the room to grow at Colonel’s Island are a winning combination,” Lynch said. “No other Ro/Ro port in the nation can match Brunswick’s 400 acres of expansion space.”

Ocean Terminal in Savannah added another 35,884 vehicles for a total of nearly 650,000 units moved through Georgia’s ports.

At East River Terminal in Brunswick, terminal operator Logistec moved 1.2 million tons of bulk cargo in FY2019, an increase of 203,000 tons, or 20 percent. The improvement was largely associated with an increase in wood pellets, peanut pellets and perlite.

During its July 29 meeting, the GPA board approved increases to accommodate record growth. At GPA’s Garden City Terminal, the third busiest container terminal in the United States, the board approved a $12.4 million project to construct four new container rows will increase annual capacity by approximately 400,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units.

The board also approved a $1.7 million project at GPA’s Colonel’s Island Terminal, the single largest auto terminal in North America. The project will add four additional acres to the 662-acre facility will add an estimated 600 processing spaces for new and expanding business.