Two area legislators praised a bill that brought the deepening of the Savannah harbor one step closer to reality.
The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act. The bill authorizes $662 million for the dredging project, which includes both the state and federal portions.
U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., has long favored deepening the harbor and was a sponsor when the bill was first brought to Congress in 1999.
Kingston said the Savannah port expansion project has been studied at a cost of $41 million and he billed it as the “most extensive study of the Savannah River estuary in history.”
“In the time the federal government has spent studying this project, China has taken a larger and deeper port from start to finish,” he said. “We cannot allow this to continue if we want to remain competitive.”
State Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, who represents a portion of Liberty County, also issued a statement regarding the vote, which still has to clear the Senate and be signed by President Obama.
“In 2015, the Panama Canal will begin allowing for larger container ships to pass with imports and exports,” Carter said. “Without the deepening project, the Savannah Harbor would otherwise be unable to handle these larger craft, leading them to be routed elsewhere and thus greatly harming our local economy. We will now be able to continue to compete on a global scale.”
Kingston said Georgia’s ports support more than 350,000 jobs at home but 75 percent of the 21,000 companies they service are based in other states.
He said the finished project will, “free up $231 million in private capital annually that can be invested in business and job creation.”