At the Savannah State of the Port event, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch thanked Governor Deal for his leadership and detailed GPA’s 10-year, $2.5 billion plan to expand the capacity of the nation’s fastest growing and single largest container terminal from 5.5 million twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEUs) to 8 million.
“We’re preparing to redefine the Port of Savannah as not simply the load centre for the Southeastern U.S., but as the port of choice for major inland markets east of the Mississippi River,” Lynch said.
During his presentation to nearly 1,400 people, including Gov. Deal, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, Congressman Buddy Carter, other elected officials and business leaders from across the state and nation, 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.
“Almost eight years ago, Gov. Nathan Deal established a goal to make Georgia the best state in the nation to do business by providing state government, business leaders and our ports what they needed to make that happen,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. He noted that since Governor Deal took office in 2011, the Port of Savannah has grown by 45% or an additional 1.2 million TEUs; the harbour deepening project has been approved and is now 50% complete; and, state transportation improvements like the Jimmy Deloach Parkway ensure that cargo moves more efficiently and without delay.
In just the past year, GPA handled a record 4.2 million TEUS, for an impressive 8.4% increase, or 325,000 additional units. Intermodal rail lifts surged to 435,000, an increase of 16.1%, or more than 60,000 additional moves, another GPA record.
Lynch expressed thanks for the leadership provided by state and local economic development authorities for helping to land 29 port-related projects in Fiscal Year 2018, bringing more than $1 billion in investment and 4,741 jobs to Georgia.
“Industries are drawn to Georgia by its growing population, economic energy and its superior connectivity to important centers of production and commerce,” Deal said. “Companies that ship through Georgia’s ports benefit from superior road and rail infrastructure, and more global container services than any other port on the U.S. East Coast.”
Over the past year, Lynch said, the Savannah market has seen record private investment in industrial real estate. In FY2018, developers added more than 6 million square feet of industrial space, according to Collier’s International. The area’s vacancy rate was still only one half of one percent by the end of the year. Strong market demand has resulted in an unprecedented 9.75 million square feet currently under construction.
Work on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is expected to be finished in late 2021. “Thanks to Governor Deal’s leadership, U.S. Senator Isakson and Perdue, Congressman Buddy Carter and the entire Georgia delegation, the construction project is fully funded this year,” said Lynch.
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.
“At the GPA, we are not only focused on expanding capacity on and off our terminals, but we are committed to finding, training and retaining the next generation of port professionals,” Lynch said.