Despite COVID-19 crisis, total tons crossing all Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) docks reached a record 37.77 million in fiscal year 2020, up 0.6 per cent, or 223,000 tons, compared to FY2019. Container tons grew 2 per cent to reach 33.5 million tons for the year, another record.
GPA’s Port of Savannah, home to the largest single-terminal facility of its kind in North America, handled 4.44 million TEUs in FY2020, down less than 1 per cent compared to the previous year.
“Cargo volume reductions related to COVID-19 were offset by the strength of our export markets and record volumes earlier in the year,” Griff Lynch, GPA’s executive director, explained, adding that this year’s better than expected results is the result of teamwork of all GPA stakeholders.
Even during challenging times, port activity coupled with ongoing expansion projects such as the harbor deepening and Mason Mega Rail has quickened the pace of commercial infrastructure investment. According to the latest report from Colliers International, 5 million square feet of industrial space are currently under construction in the Savannah market. In addition, Savannah is home to a total of 74.4 million square feet of warehouse and manufacturing space.
“What sets Savannah apart from the competition is the sheer capacity of the port’s ever-expanding footprint, on and off the terminal,” Will McKnight, GPA’s board chairman, stressed.
The Port of Savannah’s status at the third-largest container gateway in the country, the nation’s top exporter of containerized agricultural goods and the fastest growing port over a 10-year period, continues to be a strong draw for economic development. Just recently, Port City Logistics announced an $80 million, 1.1 million square-foot development in the Savannah market as two major resin exporters were building out a total of 2 million square feet of new space.
In Northwest Georgia, the Appalachian Regional Port (ARP) handled more than three and a half times the cargo it did the year before, moving 27,132 containers, up 19,610 boxes.
“The inland port is a real success story for GPA, and we forecast business there to continue growing,” Lynch said.
Moreover, Lynch reported the first nine of 18 Mason Mega Rail tracks are now moving cargo at the Port of Savannah, two new mobile harbor cranes have been added to Savannah’s Ocean Terminal and a new container yard will be completed at Ocean Terminal by year’s end. Twenty new rubber-tired gantry cranes are slated to arrive at Savannah terminals by December, three new rail-mounted gantry cranes are scheduled to go into service by the end of FY2021, and construction will start soon on the upcoming straightening of Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal to handle more 15,000-TEU vessels. GPA is also upgrading Berth 2 at Colonel’s Island in Brunswick for dedicated Roll-on/Roll-off service.
Adding new container yard space, doubling rail capacity to 2 million TEUs per year, and growing the fleet of yard and vessel cranes are all parts of GPA’s plan to increase annual capacity from 6 to 11 million TEUs.
“We’re confident in the long-term strength of the U.S. economy and our ability to help port users reach their customers more effectively. We’re building now to be ready to take advantage of new opportunities,” Lynch concluded.