GPA Eyes Major Container Terminal Expansion by 2028

To keep up with the growing container trade, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) plans to expand the capacity of the container terminal in Savannah from 5.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units to 8 million TEU by 2028.

GPA’s 10-year, USD 2.5 billion plan was detailed at the Savannah State of the Port event on September 20.

“We’re preparing to redefine the Port of Savannah as not simply the load center for the Southeastern US, but as the port of choice for major inland markets east of the Mississippi River,” Griff Lynch, GPA Executive Director, said.

During his presentation, Lynch detailed projects that include the Mason Mega Rail facility, which will double the Port of Savannah’s rail capacity to 1 million lifts per year by 2020, new equipment purchases including eight additional ship-to-shore cranes and 64 additional rubber-tired gantry cranes, gate and container storage expansions, berth improvements and off terminal road additions.

Since 2011, the Port of Savannah has grown by 45 percent or an additional 1.2 million TEUs, the harbor deepening project has been approved and is now 50 percent complete. The port handled 8.5 percent of US containerized cargo volume and 10 percent of all US containerized exports in FY2017.

In just the past year, GPA handled a record 4.2 million TEUs, for an 8.4% increase, or 325,000 additional units.

Work on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is expected to be finished in late 2021. The construction project is fully funded this year.

A US Army Corps of Engineers study estimates the deepening’s net benefit in transportation savings for shippers and consumers at USD 282 million per year. The expected total savings to the nation over the course of 50 years is USD 14.1 billion. For every dollar spent on construction, the project will return 7.3 dollars to the nation’s economy through savings on cargo transportation – one of the largest returns on investment on a navigation project for taxpayers in the country.

As deeper water allows larger vessels to call on the Port of Savannah, the GPA, along with its state partners, will be examining future infrastructure requirements, including air draft capacity of the Talmadge Bridge. Although no such vessels currently call on the US East Coast, the port could handle some vessels up to 19,000 TEU capacity.

As informed, 29 port-related projects came to Georgia in FY2018, bringing more than USD 1 billion in investment. Additionally, private investment will also play a role in Savannah’s growth, according to Lynch.

Lynch also unveiled GPA’s new workforce development initiative, the Youth learning Equipment and Safety program, or YES, created to hire and train high school graduates for careers in the port industry. The new hires will shadow experienced workers and learn forklift, truck and container equipment operations.

The Port of Savannah is comprised of two deepwater terminals: Garden City Terminal — the largest single-terminal container facility of its kind in North America — and Ocean Terminal.