Infrastructure bill means $8 million to Savannah port, White House says

Passage of the massive federal infrastructure bill last week will mean an $8 million check to the Georgia Ports Authority, the White House announced Tuesday.

The money is part of billions of dollars in aid allotted to the nation’s ports in the $1.2 trillion, 10-year package. It will be used right away to help fund five “pop-up container yards” in Georgia and North Carolina that will help lessen the congestion on the docks at the Port of Savannah.

One of the yards is near Atlanta, another near Dalton, according to the authority. “The effort will free up more dock space and speed goods (that) flow in and out of the Port of Savannah,” a statement from the White House said.

Savannah has the second-largest port on the East Coast and is the nation’s largest conduit for containerized agricultural exports.

The spending is partly a response to supply chain woes that have caused the delay in many consumer and commercial items arriving from factories in Asia. The Savannah plan for five popup container yards is aimed at speeding up deliveries as the holiday crush approaches.

Ships are backed up in the harbor waiting to unload, but the worst of the jam happens onshore. Ports’ officials recently estimated that 80,000 containers were stacked up at the Savannah facility. That’s roughly 60% more than before the pandemic.

The Port of Savannah has added nearly 400 workers in the past year, expanding its workforce to about 1,520, and is already working around the clock. The authority also has other massive projects underway that will add to the port’s overall capacity.