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The Georgia Legislature last week approved $35 million in additional funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). The state now has allocated $266 million for the $652 million project — which calls for deepening Savannah Harbor from 42 to 47 feet — fulfilling the state's portion of funding.The deeper harbor will accommodate an anticipated increase in the number of super-sized container vessels arriving and departing at the Port of Savannah after the Panama Canal is expanded in 2015. A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study determined that SHEP will reduce shipping costs for private companies by $174 million per year, Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) officials said in a press release."The $266 million in state funding for SHEP is enough to allow significant progress on the project, including environmental improvements such as rerouting freshwater flows, and improvements to the outer harbor," said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. "Besides deepening the channel, the harbor expansion will also include general navigation improvements, such as wider channel turns and a larger turning basin."The Savannah port is served by CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railway. Genesee & Wyoming Inc.'s Savannah Port Terminal Railroad provides switching services.Meanwhile, GPA announced yesterday that it has moved more than 2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during fiscal-year 2014's first seven months, a 6.2 percent increase compared with the same FY2013 period. Between July 2013 and February 2014, GPA moved a total of 19.2 million tons of cargo, up 7.6 percent. "The strong growth experienced throughout our business sectors this fiscal year demonstrates the resilience and strength of the Southeast market, and a positive return on the continued investments in Georgia's ports, rail, roads and logistical supply chain," said Foltz, adding that he expects similar growth to continue during the remainder of the fiscal year.
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