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Panama Canal dignitary visits Georgia port to talk expansion
On Friday, Panama Minister for Canal Affairs Roberto Roy visited the Port of Savannah, Ga., where he discussed progress on the Panama Canal expansion.
To be completed in 2015, the canal expansion will increase the maximum possible draft of vessels traveling to and from the U.S. East Coast via Panama from 39.5 feet to as much as 50 feet. In addition, vessel capacity will increase from the current limit of up to 5,000 20-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) to up to 13,000 TEUs.
Georgia Ports Authority (GPA)
Chairman Robert Jepson addressed the port's plan to deepen its harbor to 47 feet. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies indicate the deepening project will reduce shipping costs by at least $213 million a year, he said in a press release.
"The 5.5-to-1 benefit-to-cost ratio demonstrates that the expenditure would be a wise investment of federal dollars," Jepson said.
Before construction can begin, the harbor expansion project needs to secure federal funding, which might be allotted in the fiscal-year 2014 budget, he said.
"The next step is for Congress to approve the project budget and fund the deepening," said Jepson.
In 2011, the GPA renewed a memorandum of understanding with the Panama Canal Authority
that was first signed in 2003. Areas of cooperation include joint marketing efforts, data exchanges, market studies, expansion plans, training and technology.
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