January 29 - The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) has logged an 8 percent growth in total tonnage for the first six months of its fiscal year 2014.

From July through December 2013, the GPA moved 14.36 million tonnes of cargo, up from 13.3 million tonnes over the same period in the previous fiscal year.

"Strong volumes in container traffic, bulk cargo and auto and machinery units for the month of December contributed to this successful mid-year report," said GPA's executive director, Curtis Foltz.

Auto and machinery traffic increased by 4.3 percent year-over-year in December 2013 to reach 57,171 units moved, an improvement of 2,343 units.

An omnibus spending bill recently signed into law has authorised the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to move forward with contracts on the Savannah Harbour Expansion Project, which means that dredging to deepen the river channel from 42 ft to 47 ft will being this year, noted Foltz.

The deepened channel at the Port of Savannah will allow it to accommodate larger vessels that are expected to call more frequently following the expansion of the Panama Canal, which should be completed during 2015.