Port of Savannah tops container mark

Written by Stuart Chirls, Senior Editor
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Garden City Terminal at the Port of Savannah. GPA Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Another year, another intermodal record as the Port of Savannah cemented its position as the leading southern U.S. gateway for containerized cargo.

The Georgia Ports Authority said it handled a record 4.2 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEU) in fiscal 2018, up 8.4% increase year-over-year, or 325,000 additional units.

“Moving more than 4 million TEUs in a single fiscal year is an important milestone for Georgia,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “Georgia’s logistical advantages, along with the Southeast’s population growth, have resulted in increased demand, while the expanded Panama Canal has cleared the way for larger vessels to call Savannah.”

The GPA capped the July-June period with its 20th consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth. In its busiest June, Savannah handled 370,725 TEUs, up 9.8%, or 33,014 TEUs, over June 2017. It was the Authority’s 18th month in a row handling more than 300,000 TEUs.

Intermodal rail lifts surged to 435,000, an increase of 16.1%, or more than 60,000 additional moves, another record for the GPA. The port is directly served by CSX and Norfolk Southern.

At its meeting Monday, the GPA board approved construction of an $8.8 million overpass, part of the $127 million Mason Mega Rail project that, upon completion, will allow 10,000-foot unit trains to be built on terminal. This, along with other improvements, will increase Savannah’s annual rail lift capacity to 1 million containers by 2020, which the GPA said would cut transit time to markets such as Memphis, St. Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati by 24 hours.

In August, the GPA will open its Appalachian Regional Port, an inland rail terminal that will take 50,000 trucks off state highways. Removing the need for a 710-mile roundtrip via truck, the ARP will improve container availability and reduce transportation costs for port customers in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.

Total cargo crossing all GPA docks, including the Port of Brunswick in fiscal 2018 grew by 8%, or 2.6 million tons, to a record 36 million tons of containerized, breakbulk and bulk cargoes.

Also, the board approved the expansion of refrigerated cargo capacity at Garden City Terminal. The project will add 15 refrigerated container racks, accommodating a total of 360 additional containers. The Port of Savannah currently features 104 racks, holding 2,496 containers at a time.

The board also approved the $3.5 million purchase of 10 additional container handling machines.

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