Georgia Congressional Delegation Urges Administration to Prioritize Savannah Harbor Project
WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) along with the entire Georgia U.S. House of Representatives delegation, today urged the administration to make the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project a top priority for its fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations.
In a letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy, the Georgia congressional delegation called for the Army Corps of Engineers to match its budget request with the public commitments for federal support expressed by several members of the Obama administration.
The total cost of the Savannah Harbor project is $706 million, and the federal government’s share of that cost is $440 million. The state of Georgia has already contributed its $266 million share of the project’s cost.
If the federal government allots less than $100 million a year to the Savannah Harbor project for fiscal years 2017-2020, the project cannot be completed by 2020 and the resulting delays could ultimately cost taxpayers an extra $200 million.
Senator Isakson and Senator Perdue, along with Representative Buddy Carter (GA-01), also met with Assistant Secretary Darcy today to reiterate the importance of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to Georgia and the entire Southeast.
“The key to the success of this project will be whether the administration’s budget proposal next year includes at least the approximately $100 million that [the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] has identified as the level that would keep the project on the path to timely completion,” writes the Georgia congressional delegation.
“By every measure, our ability to grow our economy is tied to our ability to have competitive international shipping rates, and those rates are determined by having cost-efficient port infrastructure. And no port infrastructure project in the nation can more efficiently and more quickly stimulate job growth in our country than SHEP.”
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999 to deepen the Savannah River from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet. The project is being undertaken in anticipation of an expansion of the Panama Canal that will increase the maximum draft of vessels travelling to and from the East Coast from 39.5 feet to as much as 50 feet.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that the harbor deepening project will bring $174 million in annual net benefits to the United States. For the Post-Panamax II vessels, the extra five feet of depth will allow for an additional 3,600 cargo containers in each transit, an increase of 78 percent.
The deepening project will cost approximately $706 million, including construction and environmental mitigation costs. The federal government has a role in funding this project because the U.S. Constitution gives authority over navigable waters.
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