This month marked the completion of a harbor deepening project at the Port of Savannah that clears the way for mega-ships to transit the Savannah River and will accelerate commerce throughout the region, according to local officials.
The project was more than 20 years in the making. Initial feasibility studies began in 1997, and dredging for the Savannah Harbor Expansion started in September 2015. The harbor has been deepened to accommodate vessels carrying 16,000+ twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs), which allows ships to travel the river with more containers each trip and during more hours of the day, officials said.
Officials from the Georgia Ports Authority joined with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp as well representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state’s Department of Transportation to mark the event on Friday, March 25.
“A deeper channel means more than just efficient passage for the largest vessels calling the U.S. East Coast,” Griff Lynch, executive director of the Georgia Ports Authority, said Friday. “It means continued opportunity, job growth and prosperity for the people of our state.”
A Corps of Engineers study predicts more than $291 million in annual benefits to the nation from the project, or roughly $7.70 for every dollar invested.
“This is a great day for the state of Georgia and for the nation,” Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said during Friday’s ceremony. “The Port of Savannah is the gateway port for our region, and the first choice of businesses serving the U.S. Southeast. Completion of our harbor deepening is a testament to a shared commitment between state and federal partners–like our previous governors and current and former members of Congress who worked tirelessly to help move this project forward–to provide the infrastructure our economy needs to thrive.”
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 496,700 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $29 billion in income, $122 billion in revenue, and $3.4 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy, according to port officials.