Feds OK Savannah Port Dredging for Panama Canal Traffic

Obama’s “We Can’t Wait Initiative’ expedites decision on Port of Savannah dredging project. Image – Tiziana Stupia on travelblog.org.

The Port of Savannah received approval to proceed with a dredging project to accommodate larger ships expected from the Panama Canal expansion. The project is designed to help the Port preserve its place as the largest southern U.S. container port, and may help it compete with West Coast ports for Panama Canal traffic.

The Army Corps gave its final approval for the approximately $652 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project last week.  The review had been expedited as part of the President’s “We Can’t Wait Initiative.”  The federal review process lasted fifteen years.

Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-2013 and be completed in 2016. First, Congress must approve the spending of State money on the project.  Actual construction also could be jeopardized by the opposition of neighbor state South Carolina (competitive reasons) and lawsuits filed by environmental groups. “They’re taking a river system already in trouble and just sending it over the edge,” said Chris DeScherer, an attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charleston.

The State of Georgia is responsible for about a third of the project cost and has already committed $181.1 million. The port is owned, operated and fully funded by the state of Georgia, “which has invested billions of dollars to deliver the necessary infrastructure to maintain its international competitiveness (“The Port of Savannah: A recipe for international success,” BusinessInSavannah.com).

What’s interesting about this is that Georgia electeds have rallied to support funding for the project, recognizing the impact on the state’s economic vitality. And that includes Republican elected officials. They are not marking time while the Panama Canal project proceeds, and while other U.S. ports are attempting to upgrade their facilities.

 

Learn more from the sources for this story:

Savannah River Dredging Gets Green Flag, Journal of Commerce

The Port of Savannah: A recipe for international success,” BusinessInSavannah.com

Savannah Harbor deepening gets OK from Army, moves closer to start date, SavannahNow.com

The Price of the Earmark Ban in Georgia, Atlanta Journal

Savannah port to get more deepening money, governor says, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution