The Port of Brunswick had a gangbuster fiscal year 2018, handling a total of 630,000 cars, trucks and tractors, state officials said Thursday at the annual State of the Port address on Jekyll Island.

“The Port of Brunswick achieved a solid performance across all cargo categories over the last fiscal year,” said Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, or GPA. “As GPA adds new terminal space, we will expand our service area in the Southeast and beyond.”

Next year, the port’s Colonel’s Island terminal will add 60 acres of usable dockside space. Most of that land will be used for roll-on, roll-off, or “Ro/Ro,” freight, like cars and heavy machinery. This expansion will increase storage by 8,250 vehicle spaces. Currently, Brunswick’s port has a capacity of 800,000 units, and in the coming years, GPA plans to nearly double that to 1.5 million units and use an additional 400 acres, Lynch said.

The new 60 acres will be a redevelopment of an existing bulk facility in the central area of the port. Demolition of existing structures is expected to be completed in November, and the project is expected to be complete in October 2019.

“By tonnage, Brunswick is already the second busiest Ro/Ro port in the nation, behind only Baltimore,” Lynch told State of the Port attendees. “As business grows to fill out expanding terminal, the Port of Brunswick will play an even larger role on the global trade in vehicles and heavy equipment.”

To help meet that demand, the port authority will be doubling rail capacity with a new dockside expansion. This will give the port the ability to build trains up to 10,000 feet long, which are capable of traveling longer distance to meet markets west of the Mississippi River. Already, the Port of Brunswick is sending vehicles as far away as California, Lynch noted.

And it’s not just Colonel’s Island that’s growing. Last year, forest product freight was up nearly 35 percent at the Mayor’s Point terminal for a total of 138,653 tons.

Lynch also noted the port plays an important role in the economic development of Glynn and surrounding counties. Brunswick-area jobs supported by the port increased 20 percent since 2014, according to a new study by the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.

The port keeps nearly 11,000 jobs across Southeast Georgia, or which nearly 1,800 grew since 2014. Statewide, Georgia’s ports directly and indirectly support 440,000 jobs and account for $25 billion in annual income for Georgians, according to GPA.

Jimmy Allgood, chair of GPA’s board, said the port’s growth was a positive sign for Georgia.

“Our success translates into more jobs and greater prosperity for the communities surrounding our terminals, and for the state of Georgia as a whole,” Allgood said. “As we make the preparations necessary to grow our cargo capacity at the Port of Brunswick, we anticipate economic opportunities will also expand.”

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