Warning: Deepwater ports along the nation’s Southeastern coast must have more depth. Failure to do so could be hazardous to the country’s economic health.
This is not a plea-for-funding cautionary advisory from the state of Georgia, the state of Florida or the state of South Carolina, even though all three are clamoring for deeper harbors. They want to be ready for the larger ships that will be calling on the East Coast when the expansion of the Panama Canal is completed.
This urgent message to the U.S. Congress is from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, a branch of the military service the federal government trusts to keep it apprised of real needs.
But here’s the kicker: Deepening just these three could cost as much as $5 billion.
Ouch — $5 billion in a day and time when members of Congress say they are looking everywhere for cuts to slash the budget and lower the federal budget? Ouch, ouch, triple ouch.
Of course, there are other sources of funding. Congress, via the nation’s taxpayers, is not the only cash outlet. There’s revenue that’s generated by the ports themselves and, oh, yes, let’s not forget, there’s the states themselves. Why not make the states pay more for harbor deepening? Why not make them accept greater responsibility for projects that will deliver the juiciest benefits to their own economies? After all, aren’t states like Georgia doing just that to their own counties by forcing public school systems to pick up a larger share of the cost of educating its sons and daughters?
It’s fair to say that there is no answer to the port funding dilemma at the moment. ...
Members of Congress, don’t let this report from the Army Corps of Engineers gather dust. If necessary, delay a few trips abroad to see how other nations are doing and what they might need. Take a little time to discover America. Take a little time to reconnect with the states and see what your own districts might need.
There are problems aplenty out there and, like it or not, they’re your problems.
— June 25, The Brunswick News