Progress on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, known as SHEP, shifts into high gear as four major milestones are reached in the first week of August.
The Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday, July 31st, awarded the contract for the Dissolved Oxygen Injection System to CDM Constructors Inc. (CDM Smith) of Maitland, Florida, for $99.6 million.
Also this week a revised schedule indicates dredging will begin in the harbor sooner than first anticipated. A dredge to be used to deepen the outer channel is scheduled to relocate from Louisiana to the Savannah Harbor August 8. Plans call for it to begin a section of the harbor as soon as September 7, more than three months sooner than expected.
Finally, advertisement of the Water Storage Impoundment is scheduled to occur August 7, when the Savannah District will begin accepting bids to construct this mitigation feature designed to ensure the city’s water quality remains at the highest levels.
“The progress we are seeing is a testament to the commitment and teamwork of our partners to accomplishing this project in a timely and efficient manner,” said Col. Marvin Griffin, Savannah District Commander. “The harbor expansion is a project with local, state, and national significance, so the sooner we complete SHEP, the more quickly our nation will realize its full economic benefits.”
“After years of careful preparation, the Corps’ announcement today allows this important project to continue to move forward in earnest,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “Savannah’s harbor deepening plays a pivotal role in the economic future of our state and nation. Cost savings from better accommodating today’s larger, more efficient vessels will make American exports more competitive overseas. I am proud that, working with the General Assembly, we have been able to provide $266 million to get this deepening under way.”
The Dissolved Oxygen Injection System, an environmental mitigation feature of the SHEP, involves installing, operating and maintaining 12 devices called Speece Cones. These devices inject oxygen into the river to maintain necessary dissolved oxygen (DO) levels during hot, dry months, when oxygen levels typically drop. Studies show that the planned DO injection system will sustain oxygen levels in the estuary during and after the deepening.
The Outer Harbor Dredging, originally thought to begin December 15, is a $134.5 million contract awarded March 4 to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company of Oak Brook, Illinois. The contract includes deepening the outer harbor which extends 18.5 miles from Fort Pulaski into the Atlantic Ocean.
Dredging the outer harbor is the first step to deepening the entire 40-mile shipping channel and harbor from deep ocean to the Georgia Ports Authority terminal in Garden City.
The deepening will enable larger container ships to call on Savannah with greater ease, heavier cargoes and fewer tidal restraints than they currently experience. The Corps of Engineers partnered with the State of Georgia for the deepening, which brings a net benefit of $174 million each year to U.S. consumers in transportation cost savings and greater efficiencies. Each dollar invested in the SHEP will return $5.50 to the economy.