With port deepening assured, Savannah turns to next project: More warehouses as supply absorbed

Georgia’s ambition for the Port of Savannah to smother its competitors is evident in the latest initiative – calling on the private sector to nearly double the amount of warehouse space near Savannah.

This additional warehouse space is part of a double-barreled approach to grow cargo capacity. The other aspect is a planned network of inland ports that would rival in size the Louisiana Purchase.

These expansion plans are founded on the deepening of the Savannah shipping channel to accommodate huge vessels. On Monday, the ports authority announced that a necessary contract with the federal government is to be signed within two weeks. Construction is likely to begin in early 2015.

Savannah port to expand trade to imports of South American produce

Blueberries, grapes and citrus fruits from certain South American countries are to arrive on the docks of Savannah starting Sept. 1 under a pilot program that aims to treat for pests with cold temperatures rather than methods such as fumigation.

The shipments are to begin under a USDA-approved pilot program. The treatment method already is used in states including Florida and California, according to trade publications. In Savannah, the program could bolster the port’s role as a leading way station for food entering and leaving the country.

Construction delays at Panama Canal could affect Savannah harbor project

The $266 million that Georgia is setting aside for the planned deepening of the Savannah harbor is being protected by a proposed financial bailout of the Panama Canal expansion project.

The Savannah project is based on the premise that Savannah needs a deeper harbor to handle the bigger ships expected to transit the bigger Panama Canal. However, work on the canal resumed just last week – and only on a limited basis – after a two-week stoppage because of disagreement over $1.6 billion in cost overruns.

The entire budget for the canal’s expansion is $5.25 billion. The total cost now is forecast at nearly $7 billion, which is an increase of more than 30 percent above original projections.

Good news for icy metro roads: Savannah port closed, reducing number of trucks in Atlanta area

The Savannah port was closed Wednesday, which provided one saving grace for metro Atlanta’s weather-clogged roads.

“Any truck traffic that would have been moving from the port to the city of Atlanta was eliminated or reduced significantly,” said ports authority spokesman Robert Morris.

Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday that jack-knifed tractor-trailer rigs on metro Atlanta roads had contributed to the region’s paralysis after wintry weather shut many roads Tuesday afternoon. A significant proportion of trucks in the region are headed to or from the Savannah port.

Brazil, a dynamic business partner, site of Reed’s next trade mission

Brazil is one of Georgia’s leading trade partners, and Mayor Kasim Reed intends to strengthen relations during a trade mission he’s to lead there in April. Reed is just wrapping up his trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Metro Atlanta’s connection to Brazil is closer than might be expected, if the only consideration were the 4,600 flight miles or so that separate Atlanta from the capitol, Sao Paulo. An air router showed this distance is about 400 miles more than the mileage between Atlanta and London.

In terms of trade through Georgia’s seaports, Brazil is the state’s eighth largest export market and the 15th largest source of imports, according to the U.S. Census. A UGA study showed in 2012 that more than 156,000 jobs in metro Atlanta are tied to Georgia’s ports.

Proposed four-lane road in middle Georgia promoted as traffic reliever for I-20 in Atlanta, helpful to port

Community leaders who advocate for a new highway that would improve access between LaGrange and Macon are pitching the proposed road as a way to ease traffic congestion in Atlanta and freight shipments to and from the state port in Savannah.

The proposed highway earned high marks from the consultant who drafted the recent long-term transportation plan for the Georgia Department of Transportation. For their part, GDOT officials have said the state has scant dollars for major new projects.

But the economic challenge hasn’t stopped two regional commissions – Three Rivers and Middle Georgia – from launching a campaign urging GDOT to conduct a corridor study. Among the reasons they cite for the road is the relief it could provide to I-20 in Atlanta.

GDOT report: Transportation sales tax won’t begin to fix state’s freight systems

It turns out that more than $18 billion really doesn’t go as far as it used to.

That’s the amount to be raised within the next decade if voters in July approve the 1 percent sales tax for transportation in each of Georgia’s 12 special tax districts. Even that amount didn’t provide for the majority of road, transit and airport projects initially proposed.

Nor does the sum begin to make a dent in the $18 billion to $20 billion list of upgrades that must be made to the state’s freight handling systems – its highways, railroads, Savannah seaport and airports in Atlanta and Albany, according to a new report from the Georgia Department of Transportation.