Port of Brunswick
Credit: Georgia Ports Authority

The Georgia Ports Authority and a federal agency have signed off on a big expansion of the state-operated seaport in Brunswick.

The port authority's chief executive, Griff Lynch, signed an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers on Monday to widen and deepen portions of the shipping channel to make room for larger cargo ships to reach the Port of Brunswick.

The agreement allows the Army Corps to begin design and engineering work on the project, with an eye toward the actual expansion beginning as soon as December 2024, The Brunswick News reported.

Brunswick's port moved more than 651,000 automobiles and other heavy machines across its docks last year. Lynch said that number should grow once Hyundai begins producing up to 500,000 electric vehicles annually in Georgia at its new plant under construction west of Savannah.

The port authority is also investing $247 million to upgrade Brunswick's docks and storage areas to double the port's 700,000-vehicle capacity. Brunswick will also need to handle more breakbulk cargo such as lumber, steel and paper that port officials plan to divert from the Port of Savannah so that it can handle almost exclusively retail goods and other cargo packed in shipping containers.