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GPA: Another big year for Savannah’s ports

POSTED: September 12, 2013 8:17 p.m.
Photo by Stephen Morton, Georgia Ports Authority/

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz addresses more than 1,200 attendees during the 2013 State of the Port address Thursday in Savannah.

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SAVANNAH — In his State of the Port address Thursday in Savannah, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz reported record cargo volumes, an influx of new business, and more than 1 million square feet of distribution center space leased or developed.


“Not only did the ports authority achieve strong growth across major segments of our business, but the private sector responded with the lease or development of more than 1.1 million square feet of distribution center space,” Foltz said. “Of the added space, more than 300,000 square feet is dedicated to cold storage – strengthening Georgia’s position in the expanding cold chain logistics market.”


New customers contributing to the distribution center growth included Nordic Logistics, Gulf States Cold Storage, appliance maker Haier America, medical supplier Dukal, third-party logistics provider OHL, Kent Bicycle, Giumarra International Berry and Huffy Bicycles. In roll-on/roll-off cargo, GPA gains were thanks in part to new export business from Toyota and Nissan, as well import vehicles from Subaru.


In fiscal year 2013, the GPA achieved a record 27 million total tons, an increase of 651,250 tons or 2.4 percent. In addition, the GPA handled 637,000 auto and machinery units, an increase of 11.7 percent; 2.5 million tons of bulk cargo, up 62 percent; and more than 315,000 intermodal containers, another record for the authority. Foltz said the total tonnage growth was thanks to the GPA’s varied cargo mix, including the container trade, agribulk, and breakbulk cargos such as forest products, and autos and machinery.


“Pro-business policies, coupled with our outstanding workforce and logistics advantages make Georgia the right choice for new and expanding port customers,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “We’re making the smart investments necessary to ensure the fast, efficient flow of cargo.”


Foltz detailed an ambitious capital improvement plan, including $186 million allocated to capital improvement across fiscal years 2013 and 2014.


“Savannah’s role as the gateway to commerce for the Southeast requires the port to stay on the cutting edge of infrastructure, equipment and technology,” he said.


Major improvements include the addition of four super post-Panamax ship-to-shore cranes.


Other improvements include:
• 20 new rubber-tired gantry cranes,
• 20 new 24-slot refrigerated container racks,
• upgrades to mooring bollards in order to serve larger ships,
• and a 500-ton heavy lift barge crane.


“The state of Georgia and the ports authority are working to ensure that our world-class facilities continue to keep cargo moving at peak efficiency,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson.


Speaking four days before the Sept. 16 visit by Vice President Joe Biden, Foltz provided an update on SHEP progress to a capacity crowd of more than 1,200.


In FY2013, the GPA received final approval for its harbor deepening, which will allow the Port of Savannah to more efficiently serve Post-Panamax vessels and lower shipping costs for containerized trade by $213 million a year. The U.S. Army’s Record of Decision found the project to deepen the river from 42 to 47 feet is economically feasible and environmentally sound.


Also in the past year, Georgia completed a successful mediation with South Carolina environmental interests, and allocated another $50 million to construction. The state has thus far dedicated $231 million to the harbor expansion
“The final step before dredging can begin is for Congress to update the approved expenditure to the current estimate of $652 million,” Foltz said. “We’re looking forward to this final action by Congress to allow construction to move forward.”

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