Griff Lynch, President and CEO, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA)
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Griff Lynch, President and CEO, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA)

Larger containerships and liner network optimization will accelerate concentration of cargo on to fewer ships calling gateway ports. Additionally, diversification from China will drive more freight through the Suez Canal. US East Coast ports must be ready with berth and intermodal capacity.
Ports will be defined by their infrastructure investments, growth potential and customer confidence. 

To succeed, major investments are necessary, including scaling up on-dock rail and inland market connectivity, larger cranes and on-dock storage yards. Improvements in highway access and trucker experience, as well as community initiatives are key to ensuring the steady flow of cargo while maintaining good relations with port neighbors.

Port-affiliated inland railyards are vital to port flows, offering more sustainable logistics and a regional supply of empty containers for exports. Port authorities should continue expanding rail locations to serve major business hubs.

To reach population centers deeper inland, East Coast ports and Class I rail providers should collaborate on broader rail networks beyond traditional routes served from ports. This can take the form of transloading from marine containers to 53-foot boxes to tap into domestic rail routes. This will allow the East Coast to better handle the trade market forces are sending its way. 

The US Southeast population has grown 9% since 2012, adding 6.5 million people and increasing consumer demand. The fastest growing states are Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. 

The growing workforce has drawn more manufacturing to the region, with major brands establishing a presence, increasing demand at East Coast ports.

In light of the cargo expansion, private sector investment in new warehousing and transload space is also needed to complement port efforts. Locations with a supportive state government and ample land to grow the supply chain ecosystem will be in a more competitive position to attract and support business.