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Georgia Port Authority Ocean Terminal The Georgia Ports Authority has approved contracts totaling $65.6 million for container yard work at the Port of Savannah’s Ocean Terminal, a 200-acre facility just downriver from GPA’s main container port.

“We’re very pleased with the progress on improving Ocean Terminal’s container handling capability,” said GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch. “We’re on track to see greater container capacity by late 2027.”

On Tuesday, the board approved three project components, including earth compacting to prepare the site to hold container stacks, removal of a former bridge pier and preliminary utility installation behind the wharf structure.

The work will be funded through revenue bonds GPA issued in 2022.

Previously approved upgrades at Ocean Terminal include the purchase of eight ship-to-shore cranes, refurbishing the wharf structure, and construction of an overpass for direct access to US 17. When all work is complete, Ocean Terminal’s annual capacity will grow from 300,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units to more than 1.5 million TEUs.

“At Georgia Ports, we never stop investing in the future,” said GPA Board Chairman Kent Fountain. “As new and existing port users grow their trade through our terminals, we’re ready to take on additional cargo, providing the world-class service that our customers have come to expect.”

Lynch reported to the board that GPA anticipates a third straight month of growth in March.

“I’d like to thank our local partners in the International Longshoremen’s Association and Gateway Terminals, along with our GPA employees for their work moving cargo across our docks with efficient, reliable service,” he said. “With a positive showing in the calendar year to date, Savannah is building momentum toward a stronger second half of Fiscal Year 2024.”

In other business, Lynch reported on recent developments in infrastructure projects: The ports of Brunswick and Savannah will receive a total of $82.7 million in federal funding for maintenance dredging and harbor improvements in a six-bill budget package passed by Congress March 8, 2024.

Nearly $38 million will go to the Port of Brunswick, including $11.35 million for the Brunswick Harbor Improvements project and another $26.6 million to dredge the federal waterway to its full authorized depth.

Inner harbor dredging completed earlier this year brought that portion of the Brunswick channel to the authorized 36 feet. However, funds allotted in 2023 were insufficient to bring the outer harbor from approximately 37 feet all the way to its full authorized depth of 38 feet.

The new funding will cover the cost of dredging work in Brunswick’s inner harbor starting in late fall of 2024. Outer harbor dredging will begin in December 2024. These items will take several months to complete.

On Feb. 29, 2024, Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law the state’s midyear budget adjustment, in which the Georgia General Assembly allocated just over $6 million for the Brunswick Harbor Improvements project, complementing the $11.35 million in federal funding. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ recommended harbor improvement plan includes an expanded area for vessels to pass each other at St. Simons Sound, a bend widener, and expansion of the turning basin where ships are turned bow-downriver before docking at Colonel’s Island.

These improvements will be made over a span of about a year after the Corps of Engineers awards a contract for the work, expected in Calendar Year 2024.

The budget measures also devote $44.7 million to maintenance dredging conducted year-round in the Savannah Harbor.

Construction has started on a new, larger U.S. Customs inspection facility at the Port of Savannah, more than doubling the size of its current location.

The $44.5 million project will transition U.S. Customs operations from their current 130,000 square-foot location on Garden City Terminal to an adjacent 300,000 square-foot building. The new location will accommodate federal inspections by Customs and other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Warehouse 83B will undergo a full renovation and modernization to provide office space and to support the inspection of dry and refrigerated containers. The project should be complete by January 2025.

The Georgia Ports Authority has been awarded a $15 million federal grant to help replace Berths 2 and 3 at East River Terminal at the Port of Brunswick. The purpose is to improve safety and capacity for exporting wood pellets and peanut pellets, which are used as renewable energy sources.

While conducting the initial design phase, GPA will execute a grant agreement with the federal Maritime Administration and start work on an environmental study required under the National Environmental Policy Act.

In addition to the federal money, Georgia Ports will provide another $15 million to cover the expected cost.

The current dock infrastructure is more than 50 years old.

Once construction is complete, terminal operator Logistec will be able to work multiple vessels simultaneously at berths 2 and 3, improving the speed and efficiency of vessel service.

Construction is anticipated to start in late 2025.

In Calendar Year 2023, East River Terminal handled more than 1 million tons of bulk products, including export commodities such as wood pellets, peanut pellets and animal feed, and imports of salt, perlite and other commodities.

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