The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) reached its largest milestone to date with the completion of the deepening of the 20-mile-long entrance channel.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Savannah District, yesterday announced the completion of the outer harbor works adding that only final touches remain in this $134 million project to deepen the entrance channel of the harbor and extend it an additional 7 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
“The completion of entrance channel dredging is perhaps the most significant milestone to date for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project,” Col. Marvin Griffin, Commander of the Savannah District, said. “As of today, approximately half of the Savannah harbor’s 40-mile channel is deepened and better equipped to handle post-Panamax vessels. The SHEP has broad national impacts, and with this achievement, we are now halfway to realizing more than $280 million in net annual benefits for the nation.”
The outer harbor deepening began in September 2015 and will end early in March ahead of schedule and under the budget. Completing the outer harbor deepening joins other milestones in the quest to deepen the second busiest container port on the East Coast.
Removal of the Civil War ironclad CSS Georgia and the removal of the obsolete tide gate on the Savannah River’s back river were the first construction features completed for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP.
The deepened harbor will allow larger, neo-Panamax vessels to call on the port with fewer tidal restrictions. The outer harbor now extends from approximately Fort Pulaski to about 20 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. The dredges removed approximately 12 million cubic yards of material during this phase of the deepening.
Deepening the Savannah harbor will also allow neo-Panamax ships to call on the port with heavier cargo loads. This will lower fuel and transportation costs netting the nation hundreds of millions of dollars per year in savings to the economy. The benefits of the completed SHEP will be $7.30 for each $1 invested in the deepening.
Later this year, the Corps of Engineers expects to complete construction on two environmental mitigation features of the SHEP. The dissolved oxygen injection system will be completed and testing will begin. In addition a raw water storage impoundment, or small reservoir, for the City of Savannah will be brought online.
“Completion of the entrance channel is possible because of great partnerships: Georgia Ports Authority, Georgia Department of Transportation, Great Lakes Dredge and Docks, resource agencies, and Congress. We would not have been able to execute an efficient start of construction on SHEP without the State of Georgia’s commitment and funding,” the Corps said in the release.