By DAVE WILLIAMS
Capitol Beat News Service
August was another in a string of busiest months ever at the Port of Savannah.
The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) handled a record 575,513 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of container cargo at Savannah last month, up 18.5% from August of last year.
Counting the July volume, the port posted its fastest time ever for moving 1 million TEUs in a fiscal year.
“Our expanding container trade drives economic development, delivering jobs and opportunities locally and across the state,” authority Executive Director Griff Lynch said Tuesday.
Lynch said growth at the Port of Savannah is being absorbed without adding to the local traffic volume because the recent opening of the final stretch of Jimmy DeLoach Parkway linking the port’s Garden City Terminal with interstates 95 and 16 is improving traffic flow.
Also, the port is relying increasingly on rail to move cargo. Intermodal volumes accounted for nearly 51,700 rail lifts last month, up more than 4,000 lifts over August of last year.
“The investments we have made in our operating infrastructure have been paying off in our ability to handle the sustained influx of business that began two years ago,” said Joel Wooten, the authority’s board chairman.
“Combined with a deeper harbor, our improved rail capabilities and expanded container yard space have allowed GPA to maintain fluid cargo management.”
Business has been so brisk that a backlog of incoming vessels is waiting to call at the port. However, the backlog waiting to enter the Port of Savannah fell from 265,000 containers in July to 223,460 last month.
Lynch said he expects the backlog to shrink further during the next six weeks, while improvements to Container Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal set for completion next June should provide a permanent solution.