- Georgia Ports Authority plans to convert five existing inland facilities in Georgia and North Carolina into pop-up container yards to ease congestion, according to a White House fact sheet released Tuesday.
- Once opened, the Port of Savannah will transfer containers to these facilities by truck and rail, which "will free up more dock space" and "speed goods flow," the White House said. The yards can handle more than 500,000 containers over the course of a year.
- Georgia Ports Authority will spend $8 million on converting the facilities, an investment which was made possible after the Department of Transportation allowed port authorities to "redirect project cost savings toward tackling supply chain challenges."
A surge of imports to the U.S. is affecting port efficiency nationwide.
Like the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles, the Port of Savannah has handled a sustained rise in volumes for at least 12 of the past 18 months straight. One of the biggest issues ports face is a lack of space to process containers, as clogged container yards prevent ships from unloading efficiently and limit trucking companies' abilities to return containers to facilities. Pop-up storage sites have become one of the tactics officials are using to free up space at ports.
"In this time of historic cargo volumes we need to add capacity," Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director at the Port of Long Beach, said in an October interview, noting more "physical land" could help in addition to the port's move to a 24/7 schedule.
Import volumes have remained above historical levels since August 2020
The Port of Long Beach in October 2020 set up a pop-up container site at Pier S, known as a "Short Term Overflow Resource" site, or STOR, to handle rising volumes.
"It started out as 49 acres to be operated for six months. It’s grown to 64 acres and received an extension for as long as it takes to reverse the backlog," Lee Peterson, media relations manager at the Port of Long Beach, said in an email.
STOR is handling up to 14,000 containers daily, Peterson said. And it's helping free up smooth the flow of cargo at port, Val Noel, executive vice president and COO at TRAC Intermodal, said in an interview.
"Import cargo that comes in that isn't needed gets drayed over to Pier S, and either sits there wheeled which we don't love ... or, some of it gets decked," said Noel.
John Porcari, port envoy to the Biden-Harris administration, had teased the government was considering opening more pop-up container yards as a way of easing congestion during a press briefing in October.
Such facilities "can be used to ground containers on an interim basis on either public or private property," and provide "some temporary help while the longer term capacity issues are addressed," Porcari said at the time.
The idea has gained momentum since then. California Governor Gavin Newsom last month ordered state agencies to identify parcels of land for short-term container storage. And on Tuesday, Phillip Sanfield, director of media relations at the Port of Los Angeles, confirmed the port was taking similar actions.
"The Port of Los Angeles has opened some container terminal-adjacent parcels, and is working on opening others, to make additional space for containers within the Port," Sanfield said in an email.
S.L. Fuller contributed to this story.
Correction: A previous version misattributed a quote. The quote is from Val Noel, executive vice president and COO at TRAC Intermodal.