Despite challenges, Georgia Ports achieved milestones in 2020


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GPA saw advances on major infrastructure projects, record volumes

Despite unprecedented challenges in 2020, the Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) and its partners achieved many milestones.

From historic achievements for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) to the opening of the Mason Mega Rail and other infrastructure improvements, Georgia’s deepwater ports continue to drive the state’s economy.

The new year began with GPA’s 75th anniversary, commemorating the legislative act establishing the state authority in March 1945. In January of last year, GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight and Dr. Todd Groce, president of the Georgia Historical Society, dedicated a historical marker at GPA’s headquarters in Garden City.

At the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference in February, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch announced the acquisition of 145 acres contiguous to the Port of Savannah. Lynch noted the purchase was the largest addition of container space in Savannah in two decades. “As the Georgia Ports Authority enters its 75th year, we are proud to follow in the tradition of those who came before us, making exciting advances in capacity and technology to ensure our terminals remain at the forefront of global commerce,” Lynch said.

March heralded the arrival of three new ship-to-shore cranes bringing the working fleet at Garden City Terminal to 36. The investments will ensure cargo fluidity as GPA serves larger vessels and moves containers from vessel to rail in less than 24 hours.

Expanding its rail infrastructure has been a key part of GPA’s strategy to more efficiently serve the Southeast and Midwestern U.S. When complete, the Port of Savannah’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal will be the largest on-dock rail facility in North America. The facility passed a milestone in May when the first nine of 18 tracks went into operation.

As summer began, activity continued to heat up for GPA for major infrastructure projects. Four dredges worked simultaneously to deepen the Savannah harbor to its new depth of 47 feet.

Meanwhile at Ocean Terminal, two new mobile harbor cranes arrived that will serve Panamax vessels once the facility begins handling containers in early 2021. In August, the Port of Savannah was recognized as the top exporter of American-made products.

Fall at Georgia Ports brought several more firsts. The GPA served the largest vessel to call the U.S. East Coast, the CMA CGM Brazil. The Brazil’s arrival was a highlight of GPA’s first-ever virtual State of the Port address, which drew thousands of viewers from around the world.

GPA continues to impact every part of Georgia’s economy. According to a study by the University of Georgia Terry College of Business released this year, the Georgia Ports Authority supported nearly 500,000 jobs and $29 billion in income for Fiscal Year 2019.

“As our economy recovers, customers continue to be attracted by Georgia Ports’ unmatched assets, including our dedicated and highly trained workforce,” Lynch said. “We appreciate our customers trusting us to efficiently move their cargo, which wouldn’t be possible without strong partnerships with the International Longshoremen’s Association and our many partners throughout the logistics industry.”