Dredging work on the Savannah Harbor and the associated shipping channel was officially completed yesterday.
This project is part of a 23-year effort to deepen the Savannah River from an authorized depth of 42 feet to 47 feet and extend it seven miles further into the Atlantic.
According to USACE Savannah District, this capital development program is expected to net more than $291 million in annual benefits to the nation.
Also, Georgia’s Deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 496,700 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $29 billion in income, $122 billion in revenue and $3.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.
The Port of Savannah handled 9.3 percent of total U.S. containerized cargo volume and 10.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in Fiscal Year 2020.
Multiple contractors and agencies
As the lead federal agency for the project, USACE partnered with Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority and multiple contractors and agencies.
Weeks Marine completed this portion of the operations – the final deepening of the channel from the Fort Pulaski area up to the Garden City Port.
All studies and plans required close coordination and approval from the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of Interior, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Given the proximity of the channel to sensitive estuarine resources, USACE, along with its state and federal partners, conducted extensive engineering and environmental studies to identify the expected impacts and continue to ensure those impacts are offset through mitigation.
Some of the Environmental mitigation features included, but are not limited to:
- installing a dissolved oxygen system;
- re-routing freshwater flow in the upper harbor;
- preserving 2,245 acres of freshwater wetlands for the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge;
- recovering remnants of the CSS Georgia civil war ironclad that rested some 40 feet below the river’s surface;
- Revolutionary and Civil War artifacts.
Other environmental mitigation efforts are ongoing, said USACE.