Cargo shipments to the Port of Savannah in Georgia rose 10% last month to an all-time high for February as the widened Panama Canal continued to boost the number and size of ships headed for U.S. East Coast ports.
The Panama Canal expansion was completed last June, and next year northwest Georgia and other nearby markets also should benefit with the planned opening of the Appalachian Regional Port for CSX Railroad near Chatsworth, Georgia.
The Georgia Ports Authority said March 20 that it moved 2.94 million tons across all docks at the Port of Savannah last month, second only to January's 3.01 million tons during a month with three more days.
"Ocean carriers have recognized the Port of Savannah as the must-call port to serve the southeastern U.S.," GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch reported to the authority board. "With the coming realignment of the shipping alliances in April, Savannah will offer more container services than any other East Coast or Gulf port, at 35 weekly vessel calls."
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Container tonnage was a leading factor in the growth, expanding by 14.4% (314,832 tons) to more than 2.5 million tons for the month.
Next year, some of those shipments are likely to head toward the Chattanooga region when a direct, 388-mile rail route to GPA's Garden City Terminal is opened.
The $24 million facility will open by 2018 with a capacity of 50,000 containers per year. A 10-year development plan will then double that capacity.