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Rail News: Intermodal

Three eastern ports tout new capacity, cranes and cargo records

Gulf States Cold Storage has opened a 100,000-square-foot cold storage facility near the Port of Savannah.

Located less than 10 miles from the Georgia port, the facility will transport most cargo in containers on refrigerated cargo racks, but a bulk staging area was created for transload operations. Gulf States plans to extend the dock and add 85,000 square feet of frozen storage space.

The blast freezing facility will mainly serve poultry export customers and in the future might accommodate imported vegetables, fruit and seafood. Gulf States also operates freezing facilities in Americus and Columbus, Ga., Dothan, Ala., and Shreveport, La., and peanut warehouses in Andalusia, Ala., and Blakely, Ga.

The port handles about 40 percent of the nation's containerized poultry exports. Since 2006, refrigerated exports through the port have increased 130 percent.

"Right now, we have more demand for refrigerated warehousing than we have existing facilities," said Curtis Foltz, the Georgia Ports Authority's executive director, in a press release "[Our] ongoing work to expand our on-terminal capacity for refrigerated cargo, along with private developments like Gulf States, will strengthen Georgia's position in the marketplace."

PortMiami is working to expand capacity, as well. The port announced yesterday that four new super post-Panamax cranes manufactured by Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co. Ltd. in China are scheduled to arrive in September.

The electric gantry cranes will serve cargo vessels up to 22 containers wide that stack containers nine high above deck and store 11 containers below deck. After delivery is completed, PortMiami — the only port south of Norfolk, Va., that can accommodate post-Panamax vessels — will operate six super post-Panamax cranes, PortMiami officials said in a press release.

"The new cranes complement our existing nine cranes, adding capacity and helping PortMiami to become one of the most efficient and modern ports on the East Coast," said PortMiami Director Bill Johnson. "New equipment will also play an important role in preparing PortMiami for the expected doubling of container cargo traffic."

The new cranes are among $2 billion in capital improvements under way at the port, including the deepening of the main channel to 50 feet, the construction of an on-dock rail facility to be served by Florida East Coast Railway and completion of a port tunnel.

Meanwhile, the Port of Baltimore reported that its public marine terminals handled a record 9.55 million tons of general cargo in fiscal-year 2013, which ended June 30, besting the previous record of 9.33 million tons set in FY2012.

The port also set consecutive records for exported cars in one month during the fiscal year: 22,897 cars were exported in May, surpassing the previous record of 22,832 set in November 2012, then a new all-time-high 22,997 were exported in June.

Last year, the port handled 652,000 cars, the most of any U.S. port, according to a press release. Earlier this year, the port began handling Fiat vehicles.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/8/2013