October 28-29, 2015
SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee Technical Tour
Port of New York and New Jersey
A delegation of state legislative leaders from Georgia recently traveled to the Port of New York and New Jersey for high level briefings on the operations of the largest port on the East Coast and the third-largest in the nation. In terms of total TEUs (or Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units), in 2014, the Port of New York and New Jersey handled over 5.7 million, a 5.6 percent increase from the prior year. In 2015, the Port is on track to exceed the levels reached in 2014. The record volumes allowed the Port to maintain its position as the busiest on the East Coast, with nearly 30 percent of the total market share. The dollar value of all cargo that moved through the port exceeded $207 billion.
The visit, organized by the Southern Office of The Council of State Governments (CSG), the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), was designed to reinforce the need for Southern ports, including ports in Georgia, to continue essential infrastructure enhancements to accommodate the significantly larger vessels and expanded cargo volumes expected in coming years. The delegation included Senator Jeff Mullis, chair of the SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee; Senator Steve Gooch; Senator Lester G. Jackson; Representative Ron Stephens; and Representative Mickey Stephens. Delegation leader, Senator Mullis confirmed that this visit reinforced the “need for continued investments in Georgia’s ports so that the state remains competitive in attracting traffic, including after the expected 2016 completion of the Panama Canal expansion project. From the KIA automobile factory in West Point to the poultry industry in Gainesville to the carpet industry in Dalton, the economic impact of Georgia’s ports extends far beyond Savannah and Brunswick to every corner of the state and even the region,” Senator Mullis added.
For more than a decade and a half, the SLC has focused on the critical role played by Southern ports in the economic calculations of the Southern region and the nation as a whole. Given the critical role played by Georgia’s ports, the visit focused on briefing the legislative delegation of critical policy measures necessary to advance Georgia ports. The briefings included an overview of the Port’s operations by Molly Campbell, Director, Port Commerce Department, which included details on raising the roadway of the Bayonne Bridge, building a replacement for the Goethals Bridge, initiating harbor deepening efforts, continuing work to lengthen existing berths and acquiring Super Post Panamax cranes. This was followed by details on the Port Performance Task Force by Beth Rooney, Assistant Director, Port Performance Initiatives. The Task Force includes industry executives and port officials and seeks to identify challenges to port efficiency and service reliability and devise solutions to overcome these challenges. Finally, the delegation was provided a facilities overview by Aaron Sherburne, General Manager, Port Commerce Department. After the briefings, the SLC delegation drove to several of the Port’s terminals for a first-hand look at the infrastructure upgrades in progress along with insights into operations of this major East Coast port.