Photo: Brant Sanderlin
Photo: Brant Sanderlin

Savannah on track to be East Coast’s busiest port

The port of Savannah will claim East Coast bragging rights as the busiest port within a decade, Curtis Foltz, executive director of Georgia’s ports said Thursday during his annual State of the Port address in Savannah.

Savannah handled a record 3.1 million containers last year. The combined port of New York and New Jersey tallied 5.5 million containers. Foltz expects Savannah to handle 6.5 million containers by 2024.

A recovering economy should boost imports and exports through Savannah. Foltz and other Georgia officials expect the upcoming deepenening of the Savannah River and harbor to attract more business. State and federal officials expect to soon sign the final deepening documents. Within five years, ships carrying upwards of 10,000 containers should be able to ply the 47-foot deep channel, up from 42 feet today.

Foltz added Thursday that heightened port activity led to 1,900 new jobs over the last year. Nearly three million square feet of industrial space was also added.

Savannah and its sister port in Brunswick contribute an estimated $39 billion annually to the state’s economy, according to the University of Georgia. About 100,000 jobs across metro Atlanta rely on goods flowing in and out of the ports.