The Georgia General Assembly is interested in the success of our port because of the economic impact it has on the state.
A stroll down River Street often is punctuated with the sight of a huge ship headed to the Georgia Ports Authority. Transferring such bulk down our river and loading and unloading its contents is an impressive feat.
As the second-busiest port on the Eastern Seaboard, it is not just legislators and those in the shipping industry. Most Georgians recognize the port as an economic engine. In addition, the Port of Savannah is one of the few ports in the United States with a balanced import-export ratio.
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is a huge project that will deepen the Savannah River, allowing massive ships soon to sail through the Panama Canal the ability to navigate to our port. The project is being done by a three-party partnership; the Georgia Department of Transportation, the GPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The overall cost is $705 million with $266 million already appropriated by the state and $439 million to be allocated from the federal government. Senate Bill 5 has recently passed both the House and Senate to allow the port to remain competitive on the world market. SB 5 also will help the port get ready for the influx of federal money.
The SHEP Protection Clause clarifies that the Georgia Ports Authority will be responsible in any instance of injury, loss or damage caused by the project. This clarification relieves the federal government of liability.
One of the terms and conditions demanded by the federal government was for Georgia to indemnify the Corps of Engineers. The bill removes any doubt whether GPA can take on that responsibility.
Our colleagues agreed this is a responsible, sound bill that will have a positive economic impact. It was passed unanimously on every level — in both committees — and in the full Senate and House. The governor signed it on Feb. 23. The GPA has been a leader in its industry, using the latest technology, streamlining procedures and making the Savannah Port an attractive and viable place to do business.
Both Watson, R-Savannah, District 1, and Stephens, R-Savannah, District 164, represent parts of Liberty County. Contact Stephens at 404-656-5115 in Atlanta or 912-596-1998 in Savannah, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact Watson at 404-656-7880 in Atlanta or 912-527-5100 in Savannah, or email email@example.com.