The new federal fiscal year doesn’t begin until October, but in Washington, the House and Senate Appropriations committees are working on what will become the spending priorities for 2017. For Georgia lawmakers, providing $100 million to continue work on deepening the Savannah Harbor to 48 feet is an economic development priority.
In the House Rep. Appropriations Committee member Tom Graves voted for the 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which includes SHEP funding. In a statement, Graves said,
The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is a top economic priority for Georgia. The Port of Savannah supports 21,000 American businesses and brings $174 million in annual net benefits to the United States. The expansion project is essential for this powerful economic engine to continue thriving. The funding in this bill will help ensure the expansion project stays on schedule.
In the Senate, Johnny Isakson and David Perdue introduced an amendment to legislation funding the Army Corps of Engineers that would provide funding for SHEP.
“The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is critical to Georgia, the Southeast and the entire country,” said Senator Isakson. “I have been fighting for the necessary funding to keep this project on track to ensure we are not wasting tax dollars and are able to open up this critical waterway to larger vessels. Ensuring the on-time completion of this project is a win for trade, a win for the economy and a win for the hundreds of thousands of jobs the Port of Savannah supports.”
“For too long, infrastructure projects that are a critical component of our country’s commerce have fallen victim to bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Perdue. “A perfect example is the Port of Savannah deepening project, which took the federal government 17 years to approve. Today, the Port of Savannah is the fastest-growing port in the country and its economic impact reaches around the world. Clearly, maintaining the Port of Savannah and completing this infrastructure project should be a top priority for the Army Corps of Engineers.”
In 1999, congress authorized the deepening of the Savannah river to accommodate the new Panamax freight vessels which will be deployed once the widening of the Panama Canal is complete. The state of Georgia has already contributed its $266 million share of the $706 million needed to complete the project by 2020.