Governor Asking Georgia Lawmakers to Back Another Savannah Harbor Deepening

Dave Williams

Tuesday, October 31st, 2023

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Gov. Brian Kemp urged members of Georgia’s congressional delegation Monday to support a request by the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) for a study of the economic and environmental impacts of another deepening of Savannah Harbor.

The $1 billion Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) completed in March of last year was designed to accommodate containerized-cargo ships with capacities of up to 8,200 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). However, vessels with capacities of more than 16,000 TEUs are now calling at the Port of Savannah.

“GPA is vital to our national supply chain and as a job creator for our state,” Kemp wrote in a letter to U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Savannah, copies of which went to the offices of all members of the delegation. “It is critical we work together to ensure GPA can continue to accommodate ever-larger container vessels calling on our ports.”

The ports authority is asking Congress to approve the study as part of the Water Resources Development Act federal lawmakers are due to consider next year. The study would be undertaken by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Kemp asked for unanimous support from the delegation’s Republicans and five Democrats.

“Leaders from both parties and from across Georgia provided a unified voice in support of SHEP,” the governor wrote. “It is time for us to provide that level of leadership again.”

Any deepening project Congress authorized is likely to take years to complete. The SHEP took 25 years to perform the various studies required and obtain the funding needed to deepen Savannah Harbor from 42 feet to 47 feet.