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Port record prompts Savannah rail expansion

SAVANNAH, GA: November 13, 2017. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has approved a further US$42.27 million for its US$128 million Mason Mega Rail Terminal expansion program.

With construction completed by 2020, the project will double the port's rail lift capacity to one million containers per year and enable service to inland markets from Memphis to Chicago.

savannah port handlingContainer traffic rose 32 percent to hit a record 410,000 TEU in October, an increase of nearly 100,000 moves, while for the fiscal year to date (July 01 to Oct. 31), volumes increased 12.3 percent year-on-year to reach 1.42 million TEU.

"Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, Garden City Terminal has experienced meteoric growth," said GPA executive director Griff Lynch. "We're now handling more ships, bigger vessels and larger cargo exchanges. By working more weekly vessel calls than any other East Coast port, and serving more neopanamax ships than any other port in the U.S. Southeast, Savannah has strengthened its position as a vital gateway to the global marketplace."

In addition to record container volumes, Lynch said total port tonnage climbed 25 percent to 3.2 million tons during the quarter as breakbulk traffic rose 14.7 percent due to the growing strength of construction and manufacturing sectors in the region.

"A strong Southeast U.S. economy, on-terminal expansion, and investment by private logistics firms throughout the region have resulted in phenomenal growth for Georgia," he added.

Savannah, which handles 10 percent of all U.S. containerized exports, has spent nearly US$400 million in state and federal funds to deepen its container harbor to accommodate larger vessels.

"With deeper water, today's 14,000-TEU ships will be able to transit the Savannah River with greater scheduling flexibility, and take on heavier export loads," explained Lynch. "Because these larger vessels provide lower cost per container slot, they help make American farms and factories more competitive."

A recent U.S. Army Corps of Engineers economic impact study concluded the harbor deepening would return US$7.30 for every dollar spent on construction and save shippers US$282 million a year in transport costs.

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