Savannah Dredging Project Three Months Ahead of Schedule
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin the $706 million deepening of the outer edge of the Port of Savannah’s 38-mile long main channel in September—three months ahead of schedule.
The work will deepen the waterway to a depth of 47 feet—54 feet at high tide—and allow the port to handle the newer generation of containerships expected to transit the expanded Panama Canal “keeping Savannah competitive with rivals up and down the coast,” the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) said.
Some giant ships are already arriving in Savannah, the nation’s fourth-busiest container port, via the Suez Canal — but they can only navigate the river channel at high tide. Last March, the port welcomed the largest ship ever to call there when the 1,145-foot, 10,000-TEU ZIM Tianjin docked at the port’s Garden City Terminal container facility.
Most of the funding for the dredging comes from $266 million the state of Georgia has set aside for its 40 percent share of the project, which has been in the works for more than a decade.
But most of the state’s money will be used up this year, and the federal government will need to drastically increase funding levels to avoid further delays, said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz.
The Corps of Engineers is earmarking $21 million into the Savannah project with the White House asking for an additional $21 million from the fiscal 2016 federal budget.