Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director Doug J. Marchand reported that more than half of a new 2,100-foot dock at the Container Berth 8 expansion project site has been completed.

To support the berth development and capacity expansion programs, two new super post-Panamax cranes are scheduled to arrive and be unloaded on the new dock within 60 days. Dredging the berth and demolition of an existing structure are complete. A new storage area is currently under construction.

Container Berth 8 will include an additional 72 acres of storage area and increase Garden City Terminal’s capacity by 20% when the final phase is completed.

“We are encouraged this exciting new project is on schedule and on budget,” Marchand said during a meeting of the Authority. “Our steady growth this fiscal year further underscores the importance of our expansion program.”

The new berth is expected to come on-line early next year. It will be followed immediately with the development of additional terminal space to further enhance productivity and operating efficiencies. “By this time next year, the Port of Savannah will feature more than 9,800 feet of continuous dock, thus increasing what is already the largest single terminal container facility on the East and Gulf Coasts,” said Marchand.

As part of his monthly report to the Authority, Marchand also presented new statistics, noting in particular that total containers through the first three quarters of FY 2005 (July 2004 ’ April 2005) jumped by 12.2%. Total teu’s (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units) were at 1,307,892 million through the first nine months, an 11.9% increase. The GPA also experienced record gate volumes for March as a result of increased exports. Gate activity for the month exceeded 114,000 moves and represented a

16% increase from the prior month.

“All of this was accomplished without delays at our gates,” said Marchand, “and is a tribute to the hard work, innovation and excellent customer service demonstrated by our employees and the people who serve commerce through the Port of Savannah.”

In other business, the Authority approved the award of more than $430,000 in contracts to improve homeland security. These improvements were made possible due to a grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA). “On behalf of the Georgia Ports Authority, I want to thank GEMA and the United State Department of Homeland Security for making these funds available to our ports,” said Marchand. “These new projects are part of a series of infrastructure and technology improvements necessary to regulate and monitor access in and out of the terminal without having to allocate additional manpower.”

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 275,968 jobs throughout the state each year and contribute $10.8 billion in income, $35.4 billion in revenue and some $1.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s bustling economy.