Last week, Georgia’s Senators, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, presented an amendment to the annual U.S. Army Corps of Engineers legislation. The bill is one that addresses the funding for infrastructure projects, specifically the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The two are pushing to ensure the Port expansion remains a top priority.
The project was funded and authorized in 1999 with the Water Resources and Development Act. The effort was to deepen the port from the Savannah River from 42 feet to 48 feet. It’s the red tape that has stalled the project for years.
“The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is critical to Georgia, the Southeast and the entire country,” said Senator Isakson. “I have been fighting for the necessary funding to keep this project on track to ensure we are not wasting tax dollars and are able to open up this critical waterway to larger vessels. Ensuring the on-time completion of this project is a win for trade, a win for the economy and a win for the hundreds of thousands of jobs the Port of Savannah supports.”
“For too long, infrastructure projects that are a critical component of our country’s commerce have fallen victim to bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Perdue. “A perfect example is the Port of Savannah deepening project, which took the federal government 17 years to approve. Today, the Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing port in the country and its economic impact reaches around the world. Clearly, maintaining the Port of Savannah and completing this infrastructure project should be a top priority for the Army Corps of Engineers.”
Background: (According to the Official Press Release)
The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government authority over navigable waters; therefore, the government has a role in funding the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, which was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999 to deepen the Savannah River from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet. The project is being undertaken to accommodate the larger vessels carrying goods through the expansion of the Panama Canal.
The total cost of the Savannah Harbor project is $706 million, and the federal government’s share of that cost is $440 million. Georgia has already contributed its $266 million share of the project’s cost. If the federal government does not contribute its portion, $100 million a year for fiscal years 2017-2020, the project cannot be completed by 2020. Delays in the project could ultimately cost taxpayers an extra $200 million.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will bring $174 million in annual net benefits to the United States and will allow for an additional 3,600 cargo containers in each transit, an increase of 78 percent. Recognizing the economic impact the port has on Georgia’s economy and the Southeast region of the country, Senators Isakson and Perdue have consistently supported the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.