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The Georgia Ports Authority has approved projects to increase annual capacity at the Port of Savannah beyond 6 million twenty-foot equivalent container units. In 2020, the Port of Savannah handled 4.7 million TEUs of cargo. (Georgia Ports Authority / Jeremy Polston)

Governor Brian Kemp announced this week that the Georgia Ports Authority has completed and is now operating the second set of nine new rail tracks for a total of 18 tracks at its Mason Mega Rail Terminal. The expansion immediately increases intermodal capacity to and from the Port of Savannah by more than 30 percent.

“The massive new Mason Mega Rail yard is coming online at the perfect time to help address the influx of cargo crossing the docks at the Port of Savannah,” said Governor Kemp. “The added rail capacity, along with new container storage on and off terminal, are already serving as important tools to resolve the supply chain issues for Georgia and the nation. What we are doing in Georgia is working, and I am proud that we’re helping identify solutions for hardworking Georgians and Americans.”

Since Sept. 1, GPA has seen a 60 percent reduction in the amount of time containers are on terminal, as major retailers have begun moving cargo off-terminal at a faster pace. The improved flow of cargo and additional space at Garden City Terminal has allowed the Port of Savannah to expedite vessel service, reducing the number of ships waiting at anchor by 40 percent.

In addition, GPA and its two Class I rail providers are working in tandem to open temporary container yards to expedite cargo flow at the Port of Savannah. As soon as Monday, the GPA will open its first off-terminal overflow container yard less than five miles from the port.

“We’re setting up multiple inland locations that will be connected via truck or rail to the Port of Savannah,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We’re working with both CSX and Norfolk Southern to provide inland and off-dock locations to move these long-dwell imports off the facility. We think this will make a huge difference for both importers and exporters as we clear out our yard.”

GPA’s South Atlantic Supply Chain Relief Program is funded in part by reallocated federal dollars. The effort will begin with Norfolk Southern’s Dillard Yard in Garden City and the CSX Hulsey Yard, in Southeast Atlanta.

“This is the relief we needed in order to regain terminal efficiency and speed up vessel service,” said GPA Board Chairman Joel Wooten. “By reclaiming this space on terminal, we can begin to reduce the backlog of vessels at anchor. This groundbreaking partnership between cargo owners and logistics providers should serve as a model for the entire nation as we work to address supply chain challenges.”

Also on Friday, GPA announced it had, for the first time in its history, handled more than 500,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) in a single month. “We couldn’t be moving a half-million TEUs per month without the combined effort of GPA employees, the International Longshoremen’s Association, and the cargo owners who are clearing containers,” said Lynch.

The Port of Savannah handled 504,350 TEUs in October, an increase of 8.7 percent or 40,250 TEUs over October 2020. The performance surpassed GPA’s previous all-time record of 498,000 TEUs set in March.

Starting Dec. 1, GPA’s Peak Capacity project begins coming online in phases, delivering 820,000 TEUs of additional annual capacity by March 2022. Another 18 acres now under development will add 400,000 TEUs of capacity by July, for a total of 1.2 million TEUs of additional space. GPA is also building a new big ship berth at Garden City Terminal to accommodate additional 16,000-TEU vessels.

The Georgia Virtue
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