SAVANNAH — The $35 million in additional port-deepening funds proposed by Gov. Nathan Deal was approved by the state Legislature on Tuesday and awaits Deal’s signature.
Along with previous funding, Georgia has allocated $266 million, fulfilling the state’s portion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.
“Lawmakers across Georgia recognize that improving the Savannah Harbor is critically important to the continued economic health of this state and region,” Deal said. “That unified vision is also evident among our delegation to Washington, which has worked tirelessly to secure the federal portion of the project costs. It is now long overdue for the federal government to fund their portion of this federal project to make U.S. manufactured products more competitive overseas.”
Deepening the Savannah Harbor from 42 to 47 feet will accommodate an increase in the number of super-sized container vessels transiting the Panama Canal after its 2015 expansion.
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study has shown that SHEP will reduce shipping costs for private companies by $174 million a year.
The new funding was part of Deal’s fiscal year 2015 budget request and was included in the final version of the state-spending plan.
According to a news release, the project is anticipated to cost $652 million. Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.