The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) took off with a running start in July, the first month of its 2022 fiscal year.

The port authority reported record volumes for containers and for roll-on/roll-off (ro/ro) traffic

The Port of Savannah handled 450,000 twenty-foot equivalent units in July, a 25% increase from July 2020, while auto and machinery units at Brunswick rose 39% year-over-year to 61,470.

Demand for consumer goods and capacity enhancements are contributing to the increased port activity. At Savannah, the terminal at Garden City has achieved container trade records in nine of the past 10 months amid an expansion in FY2021 that added nearly 900,000 TEUs, GPA said. At Brunswick, four of the top 10 months for ro/ro trade have occurred since 2020.

“Consumer demand and the addition of extra loader vessels is driving a prolonged surge in volumes,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “I’d like to thank our GPA employees and the Georgia logistics community for the long hours and hard work they are putting in to handle this unprecedented business.”

This SONAR chart (ICSTM.USSAV) shows a seven-day moving average of imports at the Port of Savannah since July 1, 2020, based on U.S. Customs data. (FreightWaves SONAR) To learn more about FreightWaves SONAR, click here.

Officials hope the July volume records will be a sign of things to come, especially as GPA expects more capacity-expanding projects to come online this year. These projects would increase capacity by 1.4 million TEUs annually. 

The first phase to add 700,000 TEUs will open this fall, while in 2023, GPA will commission 92 acres as part of an effort to add 750,000 TEUs of annual capacity. GPA also expects a support site for the Garden City Terminal to open next March. That site is a 25-acre parcel along State Route 21 that will increase on-terminal chassis storage. 

Other projects are also in the queue: a new dock and improvements to Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal will be completed in 2023, enabling Savannah to simultaneously serve four 16,000-TEU vessels. GPA is also adding eight new ship-to-shore cranes, bringing the total to 38.

In October, the final nine working tracks of an expanded yard at the Mason Mega Rail Terminal will be operational. The first nine working tracks have already opened for operation. The new tracks will double the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity to 2 million TEUs per year, GPA said.

Meanwhile, the deepening of the Savannah Harbor is 90% complete and will allow Super Post-Panamax vessels to take on heavier loads and transit the river with greater scheduling flexibility, GPA said.

GPA’s board last month approved $525 million in bonds to fund berth and container yard enhancements.

The Port of Savannah handled 9.3% of total U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.5% of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2020.

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Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Joanna Marsh.

Related links:

Port of Savannah sets another record, but growth seen slowing

Southeast ports and carriers agree to upgrade chassis pool

Georgia Ports Authority nets $47M federal grant for inland container port