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Monday, July 29, 2013 - 10:56am

Georgia Ports Post Record Tonnage

The Georgia Ports Authority handled more tonnage than ever during its last fiscal year.

The agency also would have broken a record for number of containers moved -- had it not been for a strike that never happened.

The GPA moved a little more than 27 million tons of cargo in the fiscal year that ended in June.

That's an increase 2.4% -- and a new high.

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz says much of the growth came from the booming auto and machinery parts industries.

"Cars are just phenomenal," says Foltz. "We’ve had two back-to-back years with automobiles that is just incredible growth. Both years, we've had growth of over 100,000 automobiles. Last year, we did just north of 630,000 autos. We'll be the third-busiest auto processing port in the nation down in Brunswick.”

Alson seeing the largest gains in Georgia shipping this year were forestry products, biodiesel and corn.

But, for the third straight year, the total number of containers fell shy of a milestone three million mark.

Foltz says the threat of a strike by East Coast dockworkers cost the port enough business to make the difference in the total container number, tracked in units known as TEU's.

"If we wouldn't have had that we would have exceeded the three million TEU mark," says Foltz. "But, to me, that's kind of an artificial barrier there doesn't mean a whole lot to me. It'll make for good headlines. But the important thing for us, as a port, is that we overcame most of the damage."

Dockworkers and shipping companies avoided a strike at the last minute.