At the Georgia Ports Authority board meeting recently, Executive Director Griff Lynch reported the GPA achieved an August 2016 record of 330,846 twenty-foot equivalent container units, an increase of 5% over August 2015.
“August container unit volumes were the third-highest in the authority’s history, behind April and May 2015 at the height of diverted cargo from the West Coast,” Lynch said. “Loaded imports continue to perform well, demonstrating a high level of diverted cargo retention.”
Total cargo across all terminals reached 2.62 million tons in August, an increase of 117,470 tons, or 4.7%.
Lynch said he anticipates sustained market strength for GPA, adding that long-term growth will be enhanced by the new initiative announced recently, GPA’s Mid-American Arc. The initiative will focus on the growth of intermodal rail, extending the Port of Savannah’s reach to capture new markets ranging in an arc from Atlanta to Memphis, St Louis, Chicago, and the Ohio Valley.
A key facet of GPA’s Mid-American Arc plan, Lynch said, is a “game-changing” rail expansion at Garden City Terminal. “We anticipate construction on our new, mega intermodal terminal to begin this March.”
He said additional track will allow the GPA to build unit trains 10,000 feet long on terminal. The ability to move 500 containers behind one locomotive will make more efficient use of track, lowering the per-container cost of transportation for GPA rail partners CSX and Norfolk Southern.
The Port of Savannah International Multi-modal Connector will link Garden City Terminal’s two rail yards, improving efficiency and growing the terminal’s rail lift capacity to approximately 1 million containers each year.
This $128 million rail project is funded in part by a $44 million federal FASTLANE grant from the US Department of Transportation (DOT). The remaining $84 million will be provided by GPA internal capital funds.
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced 18 infrastructure projects across the country that will receive federal grants as part of the new Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies (FASTLANE) program.
The grants, totaling nearly $800 million, will be combined with other funding from federal, state, local, and private sources to support $3.6 billion in infrastructure investment in 15 states and the District of Columbia.
“The FAST Act gave us a set of tools to begin addressing America’s infrastructure deficit, and we have been moving full speed ahead to get critical road, rail, and port projects off the ground across the country,” said Secretary Foxx. “From eliminating traffic bottlenecks and enhancing port capacity to overhauling a major freight corridor, the 18 inaugural FASTLANE grants will enable people and goods to move more efficiently.”
Also at the authority’s meeting, Lynch updated the board on the progress of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. “To date, approximately 25% of the SHEP entrance channel dredging has been completed,” he said.
For more information, see www.gaports.com.