An additional US$35 million in funding for the Savannah Harbour Expansion Project (SHEP) is set to be approved by Governor Nathan Deal.
The $35 million will go towards deepening the Savannah Harbour from 42 to 47 feet.
The dredging project comes as a necessity to accommodate the increased number of post-Panamax vessels travelling down the Panama Canal after its expansion in 2015.
The new funding was part of Gov. Deal’s FY2015 budget request, and was included in the final version of the state spending plan passed by the general assembly on Tuesday.
All that is left is the Governor’s signature to seal the deal.
A study by the US army corps of engineers has shown that the SHEP will reduce shipping costs for private companies by $174 million year as vessels bearing more cargo at a lower rate enter the port’s waters.
Furthermore, the project has shown a 5.5-to-1 benefit to cost ratio, meaning that for every dollar spent, the national will receive $5.50 in returns.
This investment, alongside previous funding, means that Georgia will have now allocated the $266 million in state funding approved for the expansion project.
“Lawmakers across Georgia recognise that improving the Savannah Harbour is critically important to the continued economic health of this state and region,” Deal said.
“That unified vision is also evident among our delegation to Washington, which has worked tirelessly to secure the federal portion of the project costs. It is now long overdue for the federal government to fund their portion of this federal project to make U.S. manufactured products more competitive overseas.”
“The leadership from the General Assembly and the governor, pressing forward on the harbour deepening, is a testament to the importance of Georgia’s ports to communities throughout the Southeast,” said GPA Board Chairman Robert Jepson. “We appreciate this strong message our state officials have sent in support of efficient global trade – a key factor in keeping America competitive on the world stage.”
Approved by the environmental protection agency, fish and wildlife service and the national marine fisheries service, the project is expected to cost a total of $652 million.
“The $266 million in state funding for SHEP is enough to allow significant progress on the project, including environmental improvements such as rerouting freshwater flows, and improvements to the outer harbour,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.
“Besides deepening the channel, the harbour expansion will also include general navigation improvements, such as wider channel turns and a larger turning basin.”