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GPA prepares for future with mega intermodal terminal

The Georgia Ports Authority is known throughout the maritime industry for its forward-thinking solutions to issues before they become obstacles.

A most recent example of that out-of-the-box thinking, according to GPA chief commercial officer Cliff Pyron, is the port’s ramped-up investment in inland rail terminals and on-terminal intermodal expansion.

“Right now, we have the capacity to do about 500,000 container lifts a year at our two intermodal yards,” Pyron told a packed house at the Port of Savannah Propeller Club’s monthly luncheon Thursday at the Pirates House.

“Our new mega-rail expansion, which is just getting underway, will allow us to double that capacity in the next three years or so, something that will dovetail nicely with the completion of the harbor deepening and the increasing size of container ships calling on our port,” he said.

But that’s not the only reason for a mega-rail expansion.

Across the U.S., the trucking industry is facing a growing crisis in the form of driver shortages.

“At a recent conference, the president of the American Trucking Association said the average truck driver in the country today is now 56-years-old and that 7 percent of the U.S. trucking population is 65 or older,” Pyron said.

As truck capacity continues to go down while trade and commerce continues to grow, it’s important to address those challenges through a variety of solutions, he said.

“As the ships get bigger and the supply chains become more complex, people are looking for reliability, flexibility and resiliency in their supply chains, something they really can’t get on the West Coast.”

Addressing that issue is the latest GPA initiative, the Mid-America Arc, which will propel full unit trains beyond the traditional Southeast market into the Midwest, servicing St. Louis, Chicago and Ohio.

The Southeast as a region is the fastest-growing in the country, which puts Savannah in the perfect location to service that area, he said.

Demand driving growth

Meanwhile, strong demand continues to drive record growth at the port, with total tonnage numbers making last month the busiest March in GPA history.

Container numbers were up 5.6 percent, with nearly 312,000 TEUs moved; break-bulk cargo grew 10.5 percent to 232,600 tons for the month, and roll-on/roll-off cargo – autos, trucks and tractors – came in at 56,580 units, up 22.5 percent over March 2016.

“Strong demand from retail and manufacturing customers … is driving growth in Savannah and Brunswick,” said GPA executive director Griff Lynch.

“As existing port users expand their trade through our terminals and new customers tap into Georgia’s connectivity to major population centers across the Southeast, we expect to see additional job and economic development opportunities for our region.”

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Senior business reporter Mary Carr Mayle covers the ports for the Savannah Morning News and savannahnow. She can be reached at 912-652-0324 or at mary.mayle@savannahnow.com.

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Following are the ships expected to call on Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City and Ocean terminals this week. Schedules are supplied by GPA and are subject to change.

TERMINAL VESSEL ETA

GCT MAERSK KENSINGTON Today

GCT MAERSK WEYMOUTH Today

GCT ZIM ONTARIO Today

GCT AS FEDERICA Today

GCT OOCL ANTWERP Today

GCT MSC KARLSKRONA Today

GCT APL YANGSHAN Today

GCT COLOMBO EXPRESS Today

OT BAHRI ABHA Today

GCT SPIRIT OF TOKYO Saturday

GCT NYK RUMINA Saturday

GCT IBRAHIM DEDE Saturday

GCT SUEZ CANAL Saturday

GCT CMA CGM FLORIDA Saturday

OT HAI JIN Saturday

GCT MSC ARUSHI R. Sunday

GCT MSC KINGSTON Sunday

GCT MAERSK STRALSUND Sunday

GCT CMA CGM DALILA Sunday

GCT NORTHERN MAJESTIC Sunday

GCT EVER LISSOME Sunday

OT JOSCO SUZHOU Sunday

OT TALISMAN Sunday

GCT MSC RITA Monday

GCT MAERSK DHAHRAN Monday

GCT MSC MONICA Monday

GCT MAERSK COLUMBUS Monday

GCT MOL MAJESTY Monday

GCT HANOI BRIDGE Monday

GCT MARY Monday

GCT HYUNDAI JUPITER Monday

GCT WASHINGTON EXPRESS Tuesday

GCT SPIRIT OF LISBON Tuesday

GCT CMA CGM HOMERE Tuesday

GCT MSC CHARLESTON Tuesday

GCT CONTI VANCOUVER Tuesday

OT GRANDE DAKAR Tuesday

GCT PACON Wednesday

GCT HANNOVER BRIDGE Wednesday

GCT ZIM MONACO Wednesday

GCT NYK RIGEL Wednesday

GCT HOUSTON EXPRESS Thursday

GCT ZIM VIRGINIA Thursday

GCT OOCL WASHINGTON Thursday

GCT MAERSK KOTKA Thursday

GCT EVER LEGION Thursday

OT TAMERLANE Thursday

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