At the Savannah State of the Port event yesterday, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch presented details of GPA’s 10-year, $2.5 billion plan to expand the capacity of the nation’s fastest growing 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 center 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; new equipment purchases including eight additional ship-to-shore cranes and 64 additional rubber-tired gantry cranes; gate and container storage expansions; berth improvements including the ongoing deepening project.
“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 percent or an additional 1.2 million TEUs; the harbor deepening project has been approved and is now 50 percent complete; and, state transportation improvements like the Jimmy Deloach Parkway ensure that cargo moves more efficiently and without delay.
Bigger Ships, Deeper Harbor
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.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study estimates the deepening’s net benefit in transportation savings for shippers and consumers at $282 million per year. The expected total savings to the nation over the course of 50 years is $14.1 billion. For every dollar spent on construction, the project will return 7.3 dollars to the nation’s economy through savings on cargo transportation – one of the largest returns on investment on a navigation project for taxpayers in the country.
Lynch also added that 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.