“Georgia and its congressional delegation have fought long and hard to see this project through to fruition — a project that is vitally important for economic development and job creation not only in the Southeast, but nationally as well,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “After years of regulatory purgatory, we finally cleared the last hurdle and hope to begin dredging in the Savannah River before the end of the year. This pivotal link in our logistics network will aid in the prompt delivery of valuable cargo to and from every corner of Georgia and, in turn, preserve and create jobs and encourage economic growth.
“Every budget I have submitted and signed into law has included money for the state share of the deepening. My most recent budget included Georgia’s final commitment, allowing this project to move forward now. Georgia has been ranked the top state in the U.S. for business by three different scoring agencies, and this expansion project will play a crucial role in ensuring our state maintains that top distinction. I appreciate the cooperative efforts of all involved in this process and I’m especially thankful to Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston for their leadership in the General Assembly. I’ve said time and again that ‘it’s time to start moving dirt,’ and now we can.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the harbor deepening project will bring $174 million in annual net benefits to the U.S. For the Post-Panamax II vessels, the extra five feet of depth will allow for an additional 3,600 cargo containers in each transit, an increase of 78 percent.
The project will cost approximately $706 million, including construction and environmental mitigation costs. As a part of this cost-sharing agreement, the Corps will be able to use the 40 percent share of state funds to begin construction while it awaits congressional appropriations for the remaining 60 percent of federal funding. The state has already set aside $266 million – the total state share for the project.
“The signing of the PPA marks the starting point for construction on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project,” said Savannah District Commander Col. Thomas Tickner. “This sets us on the path to improving transportation of goods into and out of this harbor in an environmentally sensitive manner, which will benefit the area, the region and the nation.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has released the competitive bidding contracts prepared for the early actions to deepen the harbor.
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., praised the signing of the PPA.
“This is huge for Georgia and our economy and will bring more and more jobs to our state,” he said. “I’ve been very proud to be a part of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, and I commend the hard work and partnership of Governor Deal, Senator Chambliss and Congressman Jack Kingston to make sure this project becomes a reality.”
Kingston sponsored the original provision authorizing the harbor deepening in the 1999 Water Resources Development Act. An 11-term member of Congress, Kingston expressed his satisfaction with the PPA signing.
"For 17 years we have lived and breathed the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project,” he said. “In that time, not a week has gone by without calls, meetings, or legislative action to promote this vital project. We would be remiss if we did not recognize the early work of Governor Zell Miller as well as Senators Paul Coverdell and Max Cleland who were with us from the very beginning. In the end, the jobs, opportunities and economic prosperity generated by this project will speak for themselves for years and make it worth every step along the way.
The 15 years and $50 million on studies that it has taken to get to this point are stark reminders of the federal bureaucracy’s hindrance of economic growth and advancement,” Kingston added. “If America is to remain competitive in the global economy, we must rededicate ourselves to reforming the process by which projects like this one are approved because the rest of the world will not wait for us to catch up."