January 29, 2019

Port of Savannah notches record container volume for 2018

Port of Savannah notches record container volume for 2018

Infrastructure work on tap includes harbor deepening, new cranes, intermodal rail expansion.

By DC Velocity Staff

The Port of Savannah moved a record number of container units in calendar year 2018, as it continued work on infrastructure improvement projects in harbor dredging, new cranes, and rail capacity for intermodal freight, the Georgia Ports Authority said today.

The Port of Savannah handled 351,366 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), an increase of 8.7 percent, in the month of December, marking its busiest December ever and capping off a year with nine of the port's 10 busiest months on record. That record month helped the port reach a total of 4.35 million TEU for calendar year 2018, its highest annual volume ever and a 7.5 percent increase over 2017.

The news follows a number of other recent import records set during 2018, as ports nationwide scrambled to meet the annual holiday peak shopping rush and rushed to fill U.S. warehouses before escalations in the Trump Administration's threatened tariff war with China. 

Georgia was ready for that surge in activity thanks to its recent infrastructure investments, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completing outer harbor dredging at the Port of Savannah, marking the midpoint of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP), according to a report from Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch to the GPA Board.

Addiitonal infrastructure improvements included completion of the expansion of Gate 8—increasing overall gate capacity by 16 percent, for a total of 56 lanes—and an order for 12 new rubber-tired gantry cranes to serve the Port of Savannah, bringing its fleet to 158. Also, construction on six ship-to-shore cranes slated to arrive in 2020 is now 45 percent complete, and will bring the Port of Savannah's fleet to 36, allowing it to increase big ship capacity.

To move that increased volume off the docks, the Port of Savannah has increased its intermodal traffic, handling its most ever containers by rail in 2018, moving approximately 860,000 TEUs—a 19 percent increase year over year—via rail providers Norfolk Southern and CSX. Additional projects are set to double current rail capacity at Garden City Terminal from 500,000 to 1 million containers per year by 2020.

"Brunswick's proximity to Southeastern dealerships and auto manufacturers, combined with its ability to reach important inland markets via CSX and Norfolk Southern, makes it the ideal autoport for import cargo," Lynch said. "Nine ocean carriers serving our 1,700-acre terminal means Brunswick has the global connections to efficiently move exports, and the space to take on new business."

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