Following continued record growth, the Georgia Ports Authority is expediting more than $500 million in capacity expansion projects that were originally anticipated for the years to come.
“This growth plan is part of an overall strategy to enhance operations, accommodate increased demand, and deliver the world-class service and reliability that have become synonymous with GPA,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch in a press release.
Container volume at the Port of Savannah reached another milestone according to February’s numbers. Capacity grew nearly 18 percent last month, marking 19 consecutive months of year-over-year increases.
The same time last year, the GPA was touting handling a record amount of volume as well. “The volume that we’re handling today is volume that we didn’t expect to handle until 2025,” Lynch said last March.
This time last year: Georgia Ports Authority approves $205 million for Savannah Port expansion
According to 2021 numbers, the most popular import commodity groups were furniture; parts and accessories for motor vehicles; and floor cover, wall cover, and plastics. Top exports encompassed wood pulp, kaolin clay and paper & paperboard.
According to Lynch, the anticipated expansion projects coming out of the total $538 million will broaden capacity even further, taking the Port of Savannah’s annual container volume capacity from its current 6 million to 9.5 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent container units) by 2025.
One of the main projects the GPA is looking at is the expansion of Garden City Terminal West, an investment of over $200 million. An additional 90-acres will be developed on GPA-owned land for cargo space, increasing the port’s annual capacity by 1 million TEUs in phases throughout the next two years.
“It will be a holding area for aging imports or it may also be used for exporters if they have nowhere to put their cargo and they want to bring it to the port earlier than normal,” said Lynch.
A truck gate and access road is also being constructed, connecting Garden City Terminal to the 90-acre parcel so that trucks have easier access for pick up and drop off. The Authority is building a transloading facility on the parcel as well, addressing a demand for cross-dock services in Savannah.
The GPA is also making the largest investment in the Port of Brunswick than it ever has at around $167 million, according to Lynch.
“This will make it the flagship facility in the United States of America for ro/ro (roll-on/roll-off cargo or wheeled cargo such as cars, trucks, buses, etc.),” said Lynch.
The expected cost of the projects approved at Tuesday’s board meeting equate to 33 percent of the $1.6 billion GPA spent on new infrastructure over the past 10 years, according to a press release. The growth will be funded through a combination of bonds and internal GPA capital.
“This is going to enable Savannah And Brunswick to continue to offer import and export capacity so that Georgia growers, manufacturer can import and export what they need to,” said Joel Wooten, GPA Board Chair, “So it will increase our global impact and be a huge economic boost to Georgia.”
Lynch said that, according to analyses done by the University of Georgia, every 10 TEUs handled at the ports essentially equates to one job.
“It’s an incredible run that the GPA is on,” said Lynch.
Nancy Guan is the general assignment reporter covering Chatham County municipalities. Reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @nancyguann.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: Georgia Ports Authority expedites half billion in project investments