The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) plans to expedite the completion of 1.6m twenty-foot equivalent container units in annual capacity. By January 2022, GPA will open 670,000 teu of new annual capacity at the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal. In early March, 155,000 teu of additional terminal capacity will be available, and by June another 850,000 teu will come online at the port, delivering a total capacity increase of 25% in six months.
In September, when the GPA board of directors approved the expenditure for the expansion, project completion was expected in 2023.
“After our busiest month ever in October, this new container space is coming online just in time,” said GPA board chairman Joel Wooten. “By expediting the projects needed to ensure the free flow of cargo, we’re addressing our customers’ concerns today, and working to re-establish our long-time practice of keeping capacity 20% above current demand.”
Off-terminal, GPA is growing by another half-million teu in annual capacity by expanding its inland port strategy to include flexible “pop-up” container yards near manufacturing and distribution centres. At four locations, in Atlanta, Savannah, Statesboro, and Murray County in northwest Georgia, these yards make cargo available closer to customers and increase capacity by reducing unnecessary container storage time at Garden City Terminal.
GPA executive director Griff Lynch said that, with the new capacity arriving and customers clearing cargo more quickly, the Port of Savannah has already seen a dramatic drop in the length of time containers are on terminal. He said the number of import containers on port for more than four weeks has dropped by 53% compared with September.
At its meeting this week, the GPA board also approved the $24.4m purchase of nine electric-powered rubber-tired gantry cranes that will help support the expansion.