SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTGS) — On Thursday, more than 1,400 people packed the Savannah Convention Center to attend the State of the Port annual report and presentation.
Governor Brian Kemp joined GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch who headlined the event and painted a positive picture of the fiscal year 2019.
“The state of the port is strong in Georgia,” said Gov. Kemp.
Lynch said expansions and new business accounted for nearly $5 billion in investment and 12,000 jobs across the state of Georgia in Fiscal Year 2019, a year in which the Port of Savannah moved a record 4.5 million twenty-foot equivalent container units. He added they are planning to expand their footprint to Hutchinson Island, a $1.8 billion investment.
“As we expand our berths we want to really bring in Hutchinson Island as quickly as possible and that timeline is probably 2026,” he said.
Lynch said The Georgia Ports Authority planned to double capacity at Garden City Terminal to 11 million twenty-foot equivalent container units per year. In fiscal year 2019, port-related industries announced $5 billion in new investment and 12,000 new jobs coming to Georgia.
GPA will also be getting six more ship to shore cranes by 2020 and the final phase of the Harbor Expansion Project is set to begin in two weeks. All this Lynch said is designed to accommodate larger vessels and increased load capacity.
“They are going to come and whoever can handle those vessels is going to be the winner,” he said.
GDOT and port officials are also in talks on how to navigate larger ships to the port past the Talmadge Bridge.
“Thankfully Georgia Department of Transportation has started the process through looking at alternatives to the bridge,” Lynch said.
Gov. Kemp announced the Brunswick Port is open since being closed since Sunday due to a capsized vessel. Lynch said his focus is on 2020 and beyond.
”Over the last ten years we would be the fastest-growing port and we have to continue to upscale our operations to meet that demand,” he said.
To handle the growing container trade crossing Garden City Terminal and to attract additional business, the GPA is expanding its rail infrastructure and offerings. At Thursday’s event, Lynch introduced dual rail service from the Port of Savannah to Chicago, with cargo reaching the Windy City in less than three days.
Construction on Phase I of GPA’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal will be completed in the spring, with a grand opening slated for March 2020. When Phase II opens in late 2020, the project will double the Port of Savannah’s rail lift capacity to 1 million containers per year.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 439,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $25 billion in income, $106 billion in revenue and $2.9 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.