The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is set to expand the ro-ro capacity at the Port of Brunswick in a new $250m project.

The project will see 500,000sq. ft of warehousing, including near-dock storage, added to the Colonel’s Island terminal to provide processing space for vehicles and heavy machinery.

Brunswick Aerials N-9036

An aerial view of the Port of Brunswick, which is set to go through a $250m expansion to promote ro-ro growth

This will be the latest in a series of expansions on the port falling under the Brunswick Harbor Modification Project, with the improvements set to grow the port’s capacity to 1.4m units of cars and heavy machinery annually.

Back in 2015, the GPA announced the string of investments, originally set to cost $152m, that would take place over the next decade to keep pace with demand. The original cost was almost three times what was invested between 2005 and 2015.

Most recently, the maritime services provider Wallenius Wilhelmsen Solutions (WWS) said it would be adding three new buildings to support vehicle processing for Nissan North America, the latest carmaker to use the port for vehicle imports.

Aside from Nisan, carmakers that use the Colonel’s Island Terminal also include Aston Martin, BMW, Chrysler, GM, Honda, Hyundai, JLR, Kia, Maserati, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo. The terminal operators are BMW, IAC, Mercedes-Benz USA and WW Solutions.

The terminal has three berths, with a fourth currently under construction, and provides immediate access to Interstate 95, I-10 and I-16 as well as rail access.

In an interview this past spring with Automotive Logistics, senior director of trade development at GPA Bruce Kuzma said that production delays and capacity shortages disrupted vehicle terminal operations at the ports of Brunswick and Savannah. He said that GPA was working with its OEM customers to address additional ro-ro capacity needs.

“As an example, this includes assisting with alternative solutions when an ocean carrier reduces its allocations or decides to eliminate an east coast call from Asia in favour of a west coast call,” he said.

“As ocean carriers attempt to cycle their vessels more quickly the impact to OEMs is costly, as they try to meet the demands of growing populations in the south-east and densely populated north-east corridor.”

According to the GPA’s most recent available, the port achieved eight consecutive months of ro-ro cargo growth to March this year. The Port of Brunswwick handled 62,100 units of vehicles and heavy equipment in March, up a fifth (22%) compared to the same month in 2022. In the full year 2022, the port and its neighbour Savannah handled 631,500 vehicles, a 3% decline year-on-year from 2021. That made the port the second busiest for finished vehicles in the US after the port of Balitmore, and the fourth busiest in North America. 

“New customers and increasing trade from our longtime partners have resulted in outstanding growth at the Port of Brunswick,” said Griff Lynch, executive director, GPA. “Colonel’s Island terminal is unmatched in the nation in terms of available space, connectivity to major markets and the ease and efficiency of doing business.”

Read more about developments at the port of Brunswick in our most recent review of activity at the North American vehicle handling ports