Georgia Gov. Deal surveys the progress on the expansion of the Panama Canal during a visit with members of the Georgia Ports Authority.

 As Georgia officials wait to see if the U.S. Congress authorizes funding for the deepening of the Port of Savannah’s channel, Gov. Nathan Deal and members of the Georgia Ports Authority traveled to Panama to see first hand the progress on its canal expansion.

On Monday, Sept. 23, the governor updated his Facebook page saying that he was impressed with the progress on the development of new locks that will enable larger ships to cross from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean.

The governor mentioned his concern that the deepening of the Savannah Port’s channel could be delayed past 2015 when the Panama Canal‘s $5.2 billion expansion is scheduled to be completed.

 He was scheduled to return to Atlanta on Tuesday, Sept. 24.

Ports along the East Coast, including Savannah, have been working on federal permits and funding to deepen their shipping channels to accommodate the larger “post-Panamax” ships that will use the canal once it is expanded.

The necessary permits have been granted to Georgia for the channel deepening, but the state is seeking more federal funds to complete the project.

Griff Lynch, chief operating officer of the Georgia Ports Authority, said in Atlanta last week that he expects comprehensive water resources legislation that will include funding to be passed by Congress in October.