Over the past decade, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has spent $46.2 million on infrastructure upgrades at the Port of Brunswick. But the work isn’t done yet: Over the next 10 years, the GPA plans to more than triple that investment, calling for another $152 million in improvements.
GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz discussed the ambitious capital improvement plan for Brunswick terminals at the recent Brunswick State of the Port event.
“In order to ensure efficient processing of cargo, our capacity must remain higher than current demand,” Foltz said. “To that end, we will be improving Brunswick facilities serving each of our major business sectors here, including automotive, breakbulk and bulk cargo.”
In one of those projects, the GPA intends to add a fourth berth to serve roll-on/roll-off cargo at Colonel’s Island Terminal. The GPA has submitted a permit request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the new berth, and hopes to begin construction in 2016.
Brunswick’s FY2015 automotive tonnage made the port the fastest growing major Ro/Ro terminal in the U.S., with a 10-year cumulative annual growth rate of 12.8 percent, compared to the national growth rate average for Ro/Ro ports from FY2005 to FY2015 of 4.5 percent.
“Served by eight ocean carriers, Colonel’s Island Terminal offers three modern Ro/Ro berths and four on-terminal auto processors, handling cargo for more than 60 auto and heavy machinery manufacturers,” said GPA Board Vice Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “With 696 acres in use and 641 acres permitted for expansion on Colonel’s Island, GPA can easily accommodate additional Ro/Ro business.”
The GPA is currently preparing 40 acres on the south side of Colonel’s Island to be pad ready for new port customers. The U.S. Southeast is the fastest growing consumer market for autos.
FY 2016 projects include additional earthwork on the south side of Colonel’s Island, the next phase of the Anguilla Junction Rail Yard expansion, the first phase of a berth upgrade at Mayor’s Point, East River Terminal improvements, and continued upgrades at the Colonel’s Island agribulk facility.
At Anguilla Junction, the GPA is funding the addition of 8,470 feet of track, a 28 percent increase, to provide a total of 39,039 feet of track. The rail yard is being improved to better handle export automobiles built in Alabama, Tennessee, and Indiana.
“Another important infrastructure improvement is the maintenance dredging that must be funded by the federal government,” said GPA Chairman James Walters. “While the president has included $5.8 million in his budget proposal for FY2016, Congress has yet to pass an Energy and Water Appropriations Bill at this time. Securing sufficient funding for Brunswick harbor maintenance is our top priority right now.”
Foltz also reported on the port’s FY 2015 results: Total tons of cargo moved across GPA’s docks in Brunswick were virtually flat at just under 3.5 million tons.
“Brunswick’s deepwater terminals turned in another solid year in all cargo sectors,” Foltz said. “Colonel’s Island, Mayor’s Point and East River provide efficient, cost-effective links to overseas markets for U.S. factory and farm production.”
Bulk cargo at all GPA terminals in Brunswick reached 1.9 million tons in FY2015, down 0.2 percent compared to FY2014. Biofuels, however, grew by 28 percent. Peanut pellets improved by 87 percent (for a total of 68,015 tons), while wood pellets were up by 23 percent (to 625,414 tons). Cargo at East River Terminal, which moves biofuels as well as minerals and other bulk materials, grew by 12.8 percent in FY2015. Breakbulk cargo, which includes items such as rolls of paper and linerboard, reached 1.5 million tons, an increase of 0.1 percent.
In roll-on/roll-off cargo, the Port of Brunswick moved 680,414 cars, trucks and tractors in FY2015, a 0.9 percent improvement. Measured by tonnage, Brunswick is No. 2 in the nation for Ro/Ro, moving 1.3 million tons in 2014, the most recent period for trade reports issued by the U.S. Census Bureau. Only Baltimore moved more Ro/Ro cargo than Brunswick in 2014.