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Savannah reaches No. 2 as export container port
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Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis J. Foltz announced to a crowd of more than 1,100 Thursday at the annual State of the Port Address today that the Port of Savannah, according to the U.S Department of Commerce, had become the second busiest container port for the export of American goods.

“The demand for export commodities translates into economic growth for Georgia and the Southeast,” said Foltz. “Overall, export throughput comprised 53 percent of GPA’s total containerized cargo and grew by 12 percent.”

During fiscal year 2011, (June 30, 2010-July 1, 2011) Savannah handled 6.84 million tons of containerized export cargo, second only to the Port of Los Angeles. Also in FY2011, Savannah handled 8.7 percent of U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports.

“Georgia’s position as the number-two export port once again reaffirms the Port of Savannah’s importance to this state, region and nation,” said GPA’s Chairman of the Board Alec L. Poitevint. “The single most critical factor for the Port of Savannah’s future success, and its ability to move American-made goods to the international marketplace, is the completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The work to deepen the Savannah Harbor up to 48 feet at mean low water is precisely the type of effort that will bring comprehensive economic recovery to the United States.”

Additional accomplishments in FY2011 cited by Foltz included:

Nearly 2,000 direct and in-direct port-related jobs were added due to new business and expansion announcements at Kia Motors, Mitsubishi Electric, Dollar Tree, JLA Home Furnishings and Phillips-Van Heusen.

GPA handled a record 2.927 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), an 11-percent increase compared with the previous fiscal year.

The GPA added four new services: Grand Alliance’s SCE2 – South China East Coast Express 2; Hapag-Lloyd’s Mediterranean Gulf Express (MGX); Maersk’s Spondylus; and ACL/Grimaldi West African Multi-Purpose Service.

Intermodal rail volume grew by 21 percent over FY2010 for a total of 290,648 moves.

Foltz also reviewed plans to deepen Savannah’s harbor.

“The Savannah Harbor must be prepared for the demands of global shipping after the Panama Canal Expansion is completed,” said Foltz. “With larger vessels already calling on the Port of Savannah, it is imperative that the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is approved and remains on schedule.”

Finally, Foltz highlighted environmental initiatives throughout the port in conjunction with its capital improvement projects and port operations. In FY2011, the GPA completed its Cross Terminal Roadway, which provides direct access across the 1,200-acre terminal from the north end to the south, separates traffic between the container yards and supports functions located behind the yards. In accordance with the GPA’s environmental initiative, approximately 20,000 tons of crushed concrete were recycled for the new roadway base, 1,300 tons of asphalt millings were placed on-site and an estimated 2,300 tons of reclaimed asphalt were utilized in the asphalt pavement mix for the new roadway. In the first quarter the road was open, turn times decreased by at least eight minutes and traffic accidents decreased by 38 percent.

Twenty new rubber-tired gantry (RTG) cranes, added to the GPA’s fleet in FY2011, are another example of terminal productivity and efficiency improvements that decrease the GPA’s environmental impacts. By converting from top lifts to more RTGs on terminal, the GPA is able to condense container placement and limit its terminal footprint. These RTGs not only use less terminal space, but also have variable-speed engines that reduce diesel consumption and emissions. The ultra-low-sulfur diesel used to power these RTGs is more efficient due to a fuel additive used at the Port of Savannah.

Through the GPA’s crane electrification, use of refrigerated container racks, variable-speed rubber-tired gantry cranes and fuel additives, the Port of Savannah avoids the use of more than 4.6 million gallons of fuel annually.