Georgia Ports Authority discusses growth, plans to expand on Hutchinson Island

Local News

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – During the 2019 Savannah State of the Ports Address, port officials detailed successes from the past year and expansions for the future.

The bottom line of the annual report: the state of the ports is growing.

Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Griff Lynch said they have now captured a 21 percent market share on the east coast, meaning they handle one-in-five containers shipped from Maine to Miami.

The growth will be felt in Savannah, with a $1.8 billion investment on Hutchinson Island.

“We’re really excited about it. We already own the land,” Lynch said. “It can be rail-served, which is exciting and it’s gonna be a great project.”

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp was in attendance Thursday and says he hopes what’s happening with the ports can spread across the state.

“If we can take the incredible success story we have in Savannah and replicate it in more parts of Georgia we can create more opportunities throughout our supply chain,” Kemp said.

The GPA did note that expansions and new business from the fiscal year that ended in June accounted for nearly $5 billion in investment and 12,000 jobs across the state.

Lynch says to maintain the pace of that growth, the ports need a new bridge to replace the Talmadge because they can’t accommodate the new, larger cargo ships that are beginning to sail.

“What we’ll see ultimately is a cascading of those vessels some time, we think, we’ve talked to experts, in the next 10 years to the east coast,” he said, adding, “If we can’t handle them we’re going to have a problem.

“So it’s not an urgent need today, but it’s a process we need to start today and thankfully the Georgia Department of Transportation has started the process.”

When it comes to the expansion on the Savannah River, the GPA hopes to have the Hutchinson Island facility completed by 2026.

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