Savannah harbor deepening key to Georgia’s success


By:  U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA)

For the past 20 years, career politicians have been trying to deepen the Port of Savannah five feet to accommodate new, larger post-Panamax ships. In the real world, people would have been fired for not getting the job done sooner.

Fortunately, President Donald Trump has broken through the gridlock in Washington. He has announced full funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) for the third straight year. After 20 years of delays at the federal level, we are finally on track to complete this project by 2022.

This is huge news for Georgia and advances our country’s ability to compete globally.

The Port of Savannah is the most efficient container port in North America. It’s the third largest, and fastest growing, port in the entire country. The port consistently shatters records for container cargo moved, including a record 4.35 million twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) last year.

In 2018, total trade between Georgia and the world reached a new high at $139.3 billion. This would not have been possible without the Port of Savannah.

The new post-Panamax container ships now coming into the Savannah Port are three times the size of traditional ships. Today, these ships have to use the Savannah Port at about half their capacity. With a deeper port, these ships could double or triple the number of containers they transport today, which would bring shipping costs down dramatically.

Out of all port projects around the country, SHEP has the highest benefit to cost ratio: 7.3 to 1. The State of Georgia has already paid more than its fair share to make this opportunity become a reality. With President Trump’s commitment to this project at the federal level, the finish line is now on the horizon.

Our ability to grow exports is a prerequisite to grow our national economy. President Trump has consistently taken action to level the playing field and negotiate better trade deals with our partners around the world. The President has also made SHEP a top infrastructure priority in order to reach new markets and share American-made products with the world.

Of course, the Port of Savannah’s ability to excel is dependent upon a network of railways, roads, and warehouses to transport freight to and from the port. This is where Georgia really shines.

Georgia is currently building some of the most impressive supply chain infrastructure in the world. Two major railroads, CSX and Norfolk Southern, have locations at the Port of Savannah and are able to offer some of the fastest rail transit times in the country.

The Cordele and Appalachian Inland Ports provide direct rail routes to the port. Each container moved to and from these inland ports saves between six and eight million truck miles annually. An additional inland port in Gainesville is on track to be completed in 2021.

The Port of Savannah provides immediate access to two major interstates, I-16 and I-95. From there, trucks can reach 80 percent of the country in less than two days of driving time.

In addition, over three million square feet of warehouse space is available within 30 miles of the port.

Under the leadership of Govs. Sonny Perdue, Nathan Deal, and Brian Kemp, Georgia has become the No. 1 state in the country in which to do business. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will play a major role in continuing Georgia’s record of economic success, and its impact will be felt in every corner of our state.

Empty promises from politicians in Washington have previously kept the Port of Savannah from reaching its full potential. Completing this project will be a huge win for Georgia and our nation. Ultimately, on-time completion of SHEP is key to increasing our exports and continuing to grow the economy, and it is finally becoming a reality.

Sen. David Perdue, a Republican, is the junior senator from Georgia.