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Port of Brunswick sets record for autos
The Georgia Port Authority's Garden City Terminal is a container port mostly, where goods packed in containers are loaded on and off ships by cranes. - photo by Georgia Department of Economic Development photo

By Dave Williams, Capitol Beat.

The Port of Brunswick enjoyed a banner year in 2023, but it was an off year for the Port of Savannah.

Brunswick handled a record 775,565 units of autos and machinery last year, an increase of 15.6% over 2022.

The increased traffic at Brunswick came at the same time the Georgia Ports Authority was investing $262 million to expand Colonel’s Island.

The list of improvements includes three new warehouses, 122 acres of new Roll-on/Roll-off cargo storage space, and a fourth Ro/Ro berth now in the engineering stage. Planning has begun for a new rail yard.

“At its current rate of growth, the Port of Brunswick is poised to become the nation’s busiest gateway for Roll-on/ Roll-off cargo,” said Griff Lynch, the ports authority’s executive director. “We will be ready to serve this growth with our capital improvement projects underway and available land to expand to demand.”

Meanwhile, the Port of Savannah’s containerized cargo business suffered a decline last year. Savannah ended 2023 with a total of 4.9 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of cargo, a decrease of 16% from the previous year.

Ports officials blamed the decline on inflation and higher interest rates that slowed consumer spending, resulting in higher inventories in warehouses.

“We are using this time to invest in capacity for future needs,” Lynch said. “With the new year, we are beginning to see renewed strength in container volumes, which should result in more favorable comparisons moving forward the next six months.”

The ports authority has committed to $4.2 billion in improvements at the Port of Savannah during the next decade. The project list includes expansions of Container Berth 1 at the port’s Garden City Terminal and storage space at Savannah, a new on-port office and refrigeration facility for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, and a new transload facility for faster movement of containers from ships to over-the-road trailers.

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