Garden City Terminal container yard

The Georgia Ports Authority handled record volume in March.

Credit: Georgia Ports Authority

The Port of Savannah set an all-time record last month, handling nearly 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) of containerized cargo.

That represented an increase of 48% over March of last year, when the coronavirus pandemic was starting to slow the movement of freight.

The March showing put the port at 3.9 million TEUs for the first three quarters of fiscal 2021, putting Savannah on track to top 5 million for the first time ever in a single fiscal year.

“The port and the entire logistics community continue to serve as an economic engine for coastal Georgia and the entire state as we accelerate our economic recovery in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday. “This record-setting month proves that Georgia is open for business!”

“Last month’s performance constitutes a massive turnaround from the same period a year ago,” added Will McKnight, chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority board.

“The board’s decision to invest more than $100 million per year over the next three years will not only make Savannah better able to handle this new level of trade, but to take on additional business as our customers grow.”

Rail played a major role in Savannah’s growth, with volumes at the port’s Mason Mega Rail Terminal increasing by 29.7% in March. Only half of the project’s 18 tracks are operational, with the rest scheduled to open later this year.

Another freight rail project, the Appalachian Regional Port near Chatsworth, saw an increase of 37.7% in lifts last month, moving an additional 761 containers compared to March 2020.

Meanwhile, the authority plans to break ground in September on the first phase of a project that will add 650,000 TEUs of capacity at Savannah’s Garden City Terminal. A separate project adding 750,000 TEUs of space is due for completion in 2023.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Capitol Beat News Service.