Georgia Ports achieves record year for autos


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Renewed strength in container volumes expected in 2024

SAVANNAH, Ga., January 30, 2024 – The Port of Brunswick handled a record 775,565 units of autos and machinery in calendar year 2023, an increase of 15.6 percent over the previous year.

“Thanks to our auto and heavy machinery customers, processors and ILA Partners – GPA is firing on all cylinders,” said Kent Fountain, Chairman of the GPA Board. 

GPA’s investments of $262 million and acreage to expand will make Colonel’s Island the premier Ro/Ro facility in the U.S., enabling auto manufacturers and opportunity to meet their growing import and export needs and flexibility in their storage and movement of vehicles during seasonal cycles.  This expansion includes near-dock warehousing serving auto & machinery processing at Colonel’s Island Terminal with three new warehouses built and more new processing centers finishing later this year, 122 acres of new Roll-on/Roll-off cargo storage space, a fourth Ro/Ro berth in the engineering phase and a new rail yard planned.  

“At its current rate of growth, the Port of Brunswick is poised to become the nation’s busiest gateway for Roll-on/Roll-off cargo,” said Georgia Ports President and CEO Griff Lynch.  “We will be ready to serve this growth with our capital improvement projects underway and available land to expand to demand.”

In the container business, the Georgia Ports Authority handled 422,300 twenty-foot equivalent container units in December, down 4 percent or nearly 18,500 TEUs compared to the same month in 2022. The Port of Savannah ended Calendar Year 2023 with a total of 4.9 million TEUs, a decrease of 16 percent compared to 2022. Higher inflation rates and interest rates slowed consumer spending resulting in higher inventories in warehouses. 

“We are using this time to invest in capacity for future needs. Georgia Ports Authority is committed to investing $4.2bn in the next ten years.  With the new year, we are beginning to see renewed strength in container volumes, which should result in more favorable comparisons moving forward the next six months,” added Griff Lynch.

GPA’s Mason Mega Rail intermodal facility is growing volumes with a 10% percent increase through the first six months of fiscal year 2024 compared to fiscal year 2023.  In December, GPA had 45,709 rail lifts which is 20 percent higher than the same period the previous year.   Rail volumes represent approximately 20 percent of Savannah’s volumes with 80 percent moved by truck.

  • Motor carriers are the largest user of the port and GPA is fortunate to have a strong truck driver capacity community to serve customers via multiple gates as part of the Port of Savannah’s easy to use, one terminal model.    

List of GPA capacity building projects:

  • Mason Mega Rail: GPA has invested over $374 million to create the largest ondock rail facility in the Western Hemisphere with a comprehensive network of inland terminals, including GPA operated sites such as the Appalachian Regional Port in Murray County, GA and numerous future sites in the pipeline. Mason Mega Rail’s scale and reach is a foundational infrastructure to the port’s national gateway growth plans, using a “1,2,3” cargo strategy — one day off the vessel in Savannah, two days transportation, and third day availability to a wide network of inland destinations from Atlanta and Dallas to Memphis and Chicago. 75% of the U.S. population is reachable within 3-4 days.
  • Blue Ridge Connector: On Dec. 5th, the Georgia Ports Authority Board approved $127 million to build the Blue Ridge Connector, an inland rail terminal in Gainesville, GA, linking Northeast Georgia with the Port of Savannah’s 37 weekly vessel calls.  Opening in 2026, the facility will serve a region important for the production of heavy equipment, food and forest products.
  • Carolina Connector rail service. North Carolina importers and exporters can tap into a faster supply chain through a direct rail connection between Savannah and Rocky Mount, NC, via the CSX Carolina Connector (CCX) intermodal terminal. 7-day-a-week rail departures from GPA’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal are offered with three-day transit time.
  • Container Berth 1: The improved Berth 1 at Garden City Terminal re-opened in July 2023, increasing berth capacity by 25 percent or 1.5 million TEUs. Reconfiguring the dock alignment provided another big ship berth, accommodating more 16,000 TEU vessels.
  • New ship-to-shore cranes. The Port of Savannah received a total of eight ship-to-shore cranes – four in February and four in August, bringing the crane fleet to 34 total. The new cranes are the largest on the U.S. East Coast able to serve 22,000 TEUs vessels.
  • Garden City Terminal West. Will add 100 acres and 1 million TEUs of annual capacity adjacent to Garden City Terminal proper. Slated for completion in two phases in 2024, the yard will offer a new, long-term storage option for port customers to help them flex to supply chain demands.
  • U. S. Customs and Border Protection facility upgrade: $44 million investment announced in December 2023 to build a new office and refrigeration facility to support CBP. Savannah provides the only on-port CBP facility in the U.S., lowering costs for customers and supply chain time by eliminating the need to transport containers to an off-site inspection facility. 
  • Savannah Transload Facility: Operated by NFI, the facility opened on December 5, 2023 and moves goods from containers to over-the-road trailers for faster, more efficient delivery.

About Georgia Ports

 Georgia’s ports and inland terminals support more than 561,000 jobs throughout the state annually,  contributing $33 billion in income, $140 billion in revenue and $3.8 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. GPA anticipates investing $4.2 billion in the next ten years as part of its port master plan to expand cargo handling capabilities to support future supply chain requirements. As part of GPA’s community engagement efforts, $6 million will be donated to communities located near the Port of Savannah to support a multi-year, local workforce housing initiative. CNBC ranked Georgia #1 in the U.S. for infrastructure in America’s Top States for Business in 2023.    Area Development  – a site selection news outlet for the U.S., has ranked Georgia as the Top State to Do Business for ten consecutive years.  For further information, visit or contact Chief Communications Officer Tom Boyd at [email protected]  912-964-3855.