Major investment planned at Port of Brunswick | Breaking
An agreement to invest $247 million to expand the capacity of the harbor was signed Monday at a ceremony on the Georgia Ports Authority dock in Brunswick.
Joel Wooten, chairman of the ports authority, described the project to expand operations on Colonel’s Island as a “historic investment.”
The work is expected to begin in December 2024 if everything goes as planned, making the Port of Brunswick what Wooten said will be a “global gateway” to move goods in and out of Georgia.
The project includes expanding the Cedar Hammock Range bend by up to 321 feet on the north side along a stretch of 2,700 feet and to increase the depth. The turning basin at Colonel’s Island will be widened up to 395 feet along 4,100 feet of the South Brunswick River.
Plans also include creating a vessel meeting area at St. Simons Sound near the Brunswick Harbor entrance channel by relocating the north toe of the existing channel about 800 feet to the north along a length of about 10,000 feet.
The purpose is to enhance the safety and efficiency of vessel transits to and from terminals at the port. Currently, strong tides and currents can cause navigation restrictions on larger vessels transiting the channel.
Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said plans for the expansion project began six years ago at the suggestion of Brunswick port pilots who said the work was needed to accommodate the larger, more efficient cargo ships being built at the time.
“Everything the pilots said would happen, happened,” Lynch said.
Construction is underway to create an additional 500,000 square feet of warehouse space, he said. The Georgia Ports Authority has also received federal approval to add a fourth berth at Colonel’s Island, making service more efficient for vehicle carrier vessels.
The Hyundai plant under construction in Bryan County is expected to manufacture as many as 500,000 vehicles a year and Lynch said a place will be needed to store the vehicles.
“That place will be Colonel’s Island,” Lynch said.
The port can currently hold 700,000 vehicles. After the work is done, the capacity will double, making the Port of Brunswick the nation’s largest auto port, Lynch said.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Col. Joseph Geary said his supervisors consider the planned port expansion an “ideal project” because of the partnerships working together.
“You have folks in Georgia with a vision,” he said.
Widening the turning areas is needed because of the larger ships using the port, he said.
“It is a critical step forward for us,” he said.