Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy has signed the record of decision for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, known as SHEP.
The record of decision confirms that the proposed plan for Savannah Harbor channel improvements, including the associated mitigation, is in the national interest and meets the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act. The decision allows the project’s advancement to the construction phase. This action represents the culmination of 13 years of studies and agency coordination as required by Congress in the 1999 Water Resources Development Act.
Under SHEP the Corps of Engineers would deepen the Savannah Harbor navigation channel from its current 42-foot depth to a 47 feet Studies show the deepening will produce substantial economic benefits by enabling larger and more heavily loaded vessels to call on the harbor with fewer tidal delays.
The total project cost estimate is currently $652 million. SHEP is expected to net more than $174 million in annual benefits to the nation and has a benefit-to-cost ratio of $5.50 for every $1 invested. Given the proximity of the shipping channel to sensitive estuarine resources, engineering and environmental studies were conducted to identify the environmental impacts that would be expected from the project and ensure those impacts will be offset through mitigation. Mitigation accounts for approximately half of the project cost.
“The Record of Decision affirms that deepening Savannah harbor to 47 feet is economically viable, environmentally sustainable, and in the best interests of the nation,” said Col. Jeffrey Hall, Savannah District commander and district engineer.