U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, along with the entire Georgia U.S. House of Representatives delegation, yesterday urged the administration to make the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) 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.
Sens. Isakson and Perdue along with Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., also met with Assistant Secretary Darcy today to reiterate the importance of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to Georgia and the entire Southeast.
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, to deepen the Savannah River from its current 42-foot depth to as much as 48 feet, 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 deepening project will cost approximately $706 million, including construction and environmental mitigation costs.