The Georgia Ports Authority plans to to build a new container terminal on Hutchinson Island across from its existing Garden City facility.
The new facility will “double capacity at Garden City Terminal to 11 million twenty-foot equivalent container units per year,” says the GPA.
In Fiscal Year 2019 the Port of Savannah handled a record 4.5 million TEU. Pushing capacity to 11M TEU is staying well ahead of demand, but the GPA is confident it needs to begin work on a new terminal.
"The market has clearly chosen the Port of Savannah as the Southeastern hub for containerized trade," said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. "To fulfill the growing responsibility placed on our deepwater terminals, we have developed a plan to double our capacity."
"What has set Savannah above the competition is our ability to scale up in advance of market needs, so that we are ready when our customers are ready to grow," said GPA Board Chairman Will McKnight. "Our terminal infrastructure plan adheres to our investment philosophy of always keeping infrastructure ahead of current demand. This will ensure the GPA is prepared to handle the next wave of cargo expansion."
The Garden City Terminal is the largest single container terminal in the US, with a footprint of 1,200 acres and a capacity of 5.5M TEU per year. The new terminal on Hutchinson Island would be on a 200-acre site sits directly across from Ocean Terminal in Savannah, with an annual capacity of 2.5M TEU. Having two separate container terminals would be a new challenge for the GPA, which has had the luxury of being able to manage all its container business at a single facility.
The announcement raises the question of whether the planned Jasper Ocean Terminal in South Carolina will still be necessary? After years of wrangling over who had jurisdiction to develop a terminal in Jasper County, Georgia and South Carolina are meant to be developing the terminal together through the “Jasper Ocean Terminal Joint Venture”.
Both states have budgeted money for the planning stages and a permit application has been lodged with the US Army Corps of Engineers, but neither is really driving the project forward. Both the GPA and South Carolin Ports Authority (SCAP) have said the terminal will be timed to come on stream for when their existing facilities are at capacity.
That is a moving target: last year the joint project office for the Jasper terminal said its “best assessment” was that the terminal will be needed between 2035 and 2037. At that time the capacity of Garden City was put at 8M TEU. With the GPA now planning for 11M TEU at Garden City the Jasper Ocean Terminal is likely to be pushed back till a later date.