U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter, have called on the Trump administration to immediately fulfill the longstanding commitment to sufficiently fund the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project after the president’s fiscal year 2019 budget requested just $49 million for the project.
The Georgia lawmakers said the president’s budget request, which was released on the same day that the administration introduced a new $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, shortchanges the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, known as SHEP.
An estimated $100 million is needed in fiscal year 2019 to complete the project in the most cost-efficient and timely manner possible.
Isakson, Perdue and Carter also invited President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to visit the Port of Savannah at the earliest opportunity for a tour to better understand its value to American business.
“An infrastructure project with a return on investment like the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project should be an absolute priority for the federal government,” said Isakson. “If this project encounters further delays, its cost only increases while the benefits slip further into the future. We will not stop working to ensure that the federal government meets its commitments to this top infrastructure project, including in the omnibus funding bill expected next month.”
“The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is one of the most important infrastructure projects in the country with the largest return on investment of any project the Army Corps of Engineers is currently managing,” said Perdue. “It is the fastest growing port in the country.”
“I appreciate that the Trump administration has committed to emphasize investments in ongoing construction of projects with high economic returns,” said Carter. “With a return on investment of 7.3 to 1, SHEP should absolutely be at the top of the list.”
“Unfortunately, the number we received today is not enough. It is promising that SHEP received the highest funding level of any deep draft navigation project in the budget request today, but we have a lot more work to do,” Carter added.
In December 2017, the entire Georgia Congressional Delegation called on the administration to include critical funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) in the president’s next budget request – the fiscal year 2019 budget request announced yesterday.
Previously, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project received just $50.06 million of the necessary $80 – $100 million needed to ensure an on-time completion in last year’s fiscal year 2018 budget request made by the president in May 2017.
The Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, S.612, which was passed by the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate at the end of 2016 allows for a 75 percent federal share on harbor deepening projects up to 50 feet.
Dredging began to deepen the seaward half of the Savannah harbor, which extends 18.5 miles from Fort Pulaski into the Atlantic Ocean, in September 2015. The next step will be to award a contract for dredging of the inner harbor.