Savannah Harbor deepening is to provide more than $14 billion in savings, bringing back $7.30 for every dollar spent on construction over the next 50 years, according to the economic impact study released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Corps estimates the net benefit of transportation savings for shippers and consumers is to be at $282 million per year. The expected total savings to the nation over the course of 50 years is $14.1 billion.
Commenting this and the record 32 percent container growth in the Port of Savannah for the October, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) Executive Director, Griff Lynch, emphasized the need for the timely completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).
“Since the opening of the expanded Panama Canal, Garden City Terminal has experienced meteoric growth,” said Lynch. “It was the first time in the port’s history that it topped 400,000 TEUs in a single month.”
“We’re now handling more ships, bigger vessels and larger cargo exchanges. By working more weekly vessel calls than any other East Coast port, and serving more neopanamax ships than any other port in the U.S. Southeast, Savannah has strengthened its position as a vital gateway to the global marketplace,” he added.
Lynch also said that the Port of Savannah, with the nation’s single largest container terminal in North America, is playing a significant and growing role in supporting the nation’s economy, emphasizing the need for the timely completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
“With deeper water, today’s 14,000-TEU ships will be able to transit the Savannah River with greater scheduling flexibility, and take on heavier export loads,” said Lynch. “Because these larger vessels provide lower cost per container slot, they help make American farms and factories more competitive.”
To date, the harbor deepening has been funded by $266 million in state funds and $127.8 million in federal construction dollars. The Administration’s FY18 budget proposal devotes $50.06 million to SHEP.
“Unfortunately, the current proposal will not cover all the work that could be completed in a year,” said GPA Board Chairman Jimmy Allgood. “We are working with our leaders in Washington in hopes that they will provide additional funds through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ work plan.”
The officials also announced that outer harbor dredging for the Savannah Harbor expansion is 60 percent complete, while work on other aspects of the project put the total progress at 35 percent completion. The outer harbor constitutes about half of the shipping channel from deep ocean to Garden City Terminal. Separate contracts will cover deepening the inner harbor.