Georgia: E-Commerce Boom Favors Savannah

To meet surging demand for additional longer-term storage space, the GPA will develop 145 acres next to the Port of Savannah.

By the BF Staff
From the July/August 2020 Issue

The Port of Savannah and the surrounding private logistics market are poised to take advantage of an accelerating shift to e-commerce and the accompanying demand for industrial space. Industry analysts say that e-commerce’s share of the retail market has already surged to 30 percent during the coronavirus crisis.

According to a JLL report, previous “just in time” delivery is giving way to “just in case,” or stocking enough goods for potential spikes in demand. “The days of thin inventory levels are over,” JLL says.

(Photo: Georgia Ports Authority/Jeremy Polston)

Port customers now require additional, longer-term storage on terminal to help ensure product availability during spikes in demand. To help balance the competing needs for longer-term storage and cargo fluidity, the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has purchased 145 acres adjacent to the Port of Savannah and, separately, has brought online another 6,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units of container stacking space. GPA also is doubling Savannah’s on-terminal rail capacity.

On July 1, GPA commissioned its first two rail-mounted gantry cranes to work the Port of Savannah’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal. Spanning nine tracks, the machines speed the transition of containers between trains and trucks. The new RMGs are the first of 10 that will serve Class I railroads Norfolk Southern and CSX on the port’s expanded rail infrastructure. The Mason Mega Rail project will increase annual rail capacity at Garden City Terminal to 2 million TEUs, growing the number of working tracks from eight to 18.

“As North America’s single largest container terminal, Savannah’s Garden City Terminal can easily handle the growth that will come in the shift from just-in-time to just-in-case,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said.

The Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal is the nation’s third-busiest and fastest-growing gateway for containerized trade. At 1,345 acres, it is also the largest single-operator container terminal in North America. Offering 37 weekly containership services, the Port delivers superior scheduling flexibility, and more connections to global markets.

Competitive advantages include:

  • Rail fluidity. At Garden City Terminal, containers move from vessel discharge to rail in less than 24 hours. The Port of Savannah features daily rail departures on CSX and Norfolk Southern via Genesee & Wyoming.
  • Cargo visibility. The Authority tracks intermodal containers from vessel discharge to customer pick-ups. On-site customer service reps facilitate cargo movement at GPA terminals and at major inland rail destinations.
  • Flexibility. Of the weekly container services calling the Port of Savannah, 10 are first-in and 10 are last-out calls. Customers can get their import cargo moving overland more quickly on the first-in calls. The last-out calls allow exporters to layer in additional time for their processes before cargo must be loaded to vessel.
  • Capacity. Featuring 158 rubber-tired gantry cranes, 36 ship-to-shore cranes and enough space to double its volume to 11 million TEUs, Savannah has room to grow.

Over the next 10 years, GPA will expand container capacity at Garden City Terminal and develop an entirely new container terminal on Hutchinson Island in the Savannah River. GPA is commissioning six new ship-to-shore cranes in 2020 for a total of 36. By 2028, plans call for 42 cranes on dock. New, larger cranes, with a lift height of 170 feet above the dock will allow the Port of Savannah to serve six 14,000-TEU vessels simultaneously by 2024.

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