The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has issued its final study of the proposed deepening of the Savannah harbor, overcoming the last hurdle stalling federal approval and funding for an infrastructure project leaders say is essential to the regional and national economies.
The harbor deepening would allow the larger ships traversing the Panama Canal after its 2014 expansion to come fully loaded into the Port of Savannah, maximizing the cost savings of the massive vessels. Currently Savannah has the cranes and space to handle the ships; the only hindrance is their deeper drafts when piled high with containers.
According to the study, the project would cost $652 million, about 45 percent of which would go toward environmental mitigation. The corps recommended deepening the Savannah River, the approach channel for the fourth largest container port in the country, by five feet to 47 feet.
The economic aspects of the study showed that the nation would see a return on its investment in four years, as the deepening would provide an annual net benefit of $174 million to the country.
“Today’s announcement brings to an end 15 years of exhaustive due diligence,” said Alec Poitevint, the Georgia Ports Authority‘s chairman, in a news release. “With this important step forward, we are closer to putting in place infrastructure that will create economic opportunities across many industries and state lines.”
The news release listed statements of support from many community leaders who have been fighting to keep the deepening project in front of Congress, including Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, many legislators and Alberto Aleman Zubieta, the CEO of the Panama Canal Authority.
More information on the corps’ report can be found here: http://www.sas.usace.army.mil/shexpan/home.html