The project will allow larger ships with deeper drafts to call on Savannah. Trevor Williams The project will allow larger ships with deeper drafts to call on Savannah. [Enlarge]

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal is to call for the state Legislature to increase funding for the Savannah harbor deepening by $50 million, bringing the state's portion of the funding for the key infrastructure project to $231.1 million if approved.

The overall projected cost is $652 million, the remainder of which would be funded by the federal government. 

Funding is the last hurdle for the project to cross after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued its record of decision, or final approval, for the project last month, paving the way for construction to begin next year. 

The Savannah harbor is being deepened to 47 feet from 42 feet to accommodate deeper drafts from larger vessels that will traverse the Panama Canal after the waterway is expanded in 2014. 

Studies have projected that the deepening will reduce shipping costs by $213 million per year, with most of the benefits accruing to the companies across the country that depend on international trade. 

Mr. Deal announced his intention to call for additional funding at a Georgia Ports Authority board meeting Nov. 19. 

“Expanding the Savannah Harbor is vital to our renewed economic growth and plays an integral role in helping make our state the No. 1 place in the nation in which to do business,” the governor said in a news release.

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