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Ports & Terminals

Georgia seen surpassing NY/NJ as No. 1 East Coast containerport

Georgia’s governor and top ports executive each see the Peach State surpassing the Port of New York & New Jersey as having the No. 1 containerized cargo gateway on the U.S. East Coast, perhaps in as few as a dozen years.

“If it continues to grow, I have every reason to believe it may very well be the No. 1 containerport on the East Coast,” Gov. Nathan Deal said in opening the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference today [Feb. 8] at Sea Island, Ga., at which he praised Curtis J. Foltz, the outgoing executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority.

Foltz, who on Feb. 3 said he plans to step down June 30 from the role he has held for the past six years, following six years as the GPA’s chief operating officer, drew a standing ovation from the gathering of some 500 industry leaders after Deal noted that Foltz not only has raised the prominence of port operations in Georgia but also has “literally given us a place on the world map.”

In response to a question from the American Journal of Transportation following his address, Deal reiterated his optimistic outlook and asked Foltz for details as to the potential timeframe.

Foltz told AJOT, “It’s pretty remarkable the position we’re already in. What you ask wouldn’t even have been a topic of discussion 10 years ago.”

He said that if the Port of Savannah continues to increase its container volume at double the market average for U.S. containerports, actually a slower pace than current growth, “in the next decade or decade and a half, it’s not out of the realm that we could be handling volumes along the lines of New York and New Jersey.”

Foltz added that the GPA’s Port of Savannah, as well as the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, will each have reached full container throughput capacity within 15 years, which makes all the more important the advancement of the Jasper Ocean Terminal project, jointly supported by Georgia and South Carolina ports authorities, to build a new containerport about 25 miles up the Savannah River from the Port of Savannah.

“Jasper really raises it way beyond New York and New Jersey,” Foltz said.

Deal interjected, “The dredging project makes Jasper possible.”

Foltz said the project to deepen the Savannah River channel to 47 feet is progressing toward completion in 2020 or 2021.

Deal said he is hopeful that the channel project, for which he has led state support, will benefit from federal funding to come from “a bucket of money” for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers projects to be part of the Obama administration’s budget plan to be announced Feb 9. The governor said he anticipates the Savannah River project will be favored because it is “dredge-ready.”

In 2015, the Port of Savannah increased its container volume by 11.7 percent (compared with a 3.4 percent gain for U.S. containerports as a whole), handling a record 3.73 million twenty-foot-equivalent container units. The Port of New York & New Jersey just announced that it handled a record 6.37 million TEUs in 2015, up 10.4 percent from 2014.

Comprehensive coverage of the 48th annual Georgia Foreign Trade Conference is slated to appear in the Feb. 22 edition of the American Journal of Transportation.

Photo: Curtis Foltz, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, joins Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal at the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference. (Photo by Paul Scott Abbott, AJOT)

Paul Scott Abbott
Paul Scott Abbott

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For more than a quarter of a century, Paul Scott Abbott has been writing and shooting images for the American Journal of Transportation, applying four decades of experience as an award-winning journalist.
A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, with a master’s magna cum laude from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Abbott has served as president of chapters of the Propeller Club of the United States, Florida Public Relations Association and Society of Professional Journalists.
Abbott honed his skills on several daily newspapers, including The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Richmond (Va.) News Leader, Albuquerque Journal and (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel, and was editor and publisher of The County Line, a weekly newspaper he founded in suburban Richmond, Va.
A native Chicagoan, he is a member of American Mensa and an ever-optimistic fan of the Chicago Cubs.

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