The chairman of the Panama Canal last week met with Port of Savannah officials for an update on a harbor deepening project that will enable the nation’s fourth largest container port to handle more traffic after the canal is expanded.
Roberto Roy, Panama’s minister for canal affairs, met with Gov. Nathan Deal and Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz during his trip.
The Savannah port’s ascent over the past decade was enabled by the canal, a crucial shortcut for goods coming from Asia, now the largest region for Georgia exports.
Nearly half the containers (47 percent in 2012) shipped in and out of Savannah traverse the canal, which is undergoing a major expansion to accommodate larger ships with deeper drafts.
After 14 years of study, the Savannah port in July received the go-ahead from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an estimated $652 million project to deepen its harbor and river channel. The state has put forth $181 million. Now, the challenge is getting the rest of the funding from a cash-strapped federal government. President Obama last year named the project one of five key infrastructure projects to be fast-tracked for funding.