Final Approval is Expected in Coming Months
The President’s fiscal year 2013 Civil Works budget released included $2.8 million for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).
“The funding announced today, along with more than $180 million in state funds that have either been committed or budgeted, will allow this project to stay on track,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. “We plan to work closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure this project is approved and the necessary funds are in place to begin construction in the coming months.”
“This is an important step toward completing the SHEP and providing continued economic recovery and growth in the Southeastern U.S,” said Curtis Foltz, GPA’s Executive Director. “The unified leadership shown by our delegation in Washington, as well as the teamwork between Governor Nathan Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed are the major reasons this project has received so much bi-partisan support.”
The completed SHEP study is expected to receive a record of decision later this year, allowing the Corps to move to construction phase of the harbor deepening in FY 2013.
“The completion of the SHEP will have long-term positive economic benefits for Georgia, South Carolina, and a large percentage of the U.S. population served through the Port of Savannah,” said Alec Poitevint, GPA’s Board Chairman. “As the fourth largest container port in the country, the Port of Savannah serves approximately 21,000 companies in all 50 states, over 75 percent of which are headquartered outside of Georgia. This is truly a project of national significance.”
According to the Corps, deepening the Savannah Harbor up to 48 feet will bring more than $115 million in annual economic benefits to the United States, primarily by lowering transportation costs. The harbor project is necessary to prepare for a new class of larger container ships that are nearly three times the capacity of those currently able to transit the Panama Canal. In 2014, the Panama Canal expansion will be completed and increase the maximum draft of vessels traveling to and from the U.S. East Coast from 39.5 feet to as much as 50 feet. While the Port of Savannah regularly handles vessels that are too large to transit the Panama Canal, these vessels cannot load to their capacity.
“The Corps should release the final study documents this spring, clearing the way for federal approval of the project,” Foltz said. “Once construction begins, we anticipate the deepening to be completed in 2016.”
The Port of Savannah also fared well on maintenance dredging funds, receiving $22 million in federal dollars. Similarly, the Port of Brunswick received $3 million for maintenance dredging. The GPA will work with Georgia’s leadership to request additional maintenance dredging funds for Brunswick.