Georgia Ports Authority gives the go-ahead for projects to boost capacity

THE Georgia Ports Authority has approved a series of capital improvement projects to cope with the rapid growth in volumes at the ports in the past six months

06 April 2021 - 19:00
THE Georgia Ports Authority has approved a series of capital improvement projects to cope with the rapid growth in volumes at the ports in the past six months.

The projects, which will build on ongoing efforts at the ports, will add more than 20 per cent capacity both for the container operations and in Ro/Ro vehicle traffic, reports The Maritime Executive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

'Right now, we are moving container volumes that we did not expect to see for another four years,' said GPA executive director Griff Lynch. 'We are expediting capacity projects that will increase the speed and fluidity of cargo handling at the Port of Savannah.'

The Port of Savannah experienced its busiest February ever by moving 390,804 TEU of cargo, an increase of 7.2 per cent, or 26,400 TEUs compared to February 2020.

Between September 2020 and February 2021, GPA handled a total of 2.64 million TEU, an increase of nearly 375,000, or 16.5 per cent, compared to the same six-month period a year ago. 'In terms of cargo volumes, we've added the equivalent of an extra month of trade since September,' Mr Lynch said.

To address the needs for added capacity both near- and longer-term, the port approved a series of projects, some of which were completed in February while others will be implemented over the next few months.

A terminal enhancement effort dubbed the Peak Capacity project will establish 2,100 new grounded container slots. The project will add 650,000 TEU annual container yard capacity in two phases, with the first opening in September.

The increased yard capacity is in addition to bringing expanded container operations online at Savannah's Ocean Terminal in late February. This will add 250,000 TEU of annual capacity at the Port of Savannah.

The port infrastructure is also being enhanced in stages to support the capacity increases. By the end of this year, the deepening of Savannah's harbour, a Corps of Engineers project will be substantially completed providing greater scheduling flexibility for vessel transit.

The Ro/Ro port in Brunswick, Georgia, has also experienced a strong increase in volumes as the auto plants in the region reopened and increased production after delays related to the pandemic. In February, volume was up 23 per cent handling 50,945 units of autos and heavy machinery. To support the growth of the Ro/Ro segment, the port authority received a permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers to develop a fourth berth for Ro/Ro cargo in Brunswick.

According to Georgia Ports, Savannah currently handles more than nine per cent of the total US containerised cargo volume. The projects that they are undertaking are designed to increase the port's capacity beyond six million TEU.

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