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Portside: GPA boss offers a harbor deepening update

Posted April 20, 2017 10:11 pm

By

mary.mayle@savannahnow.com

With the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project back in the news recently, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch provided the following update on the project:

“Currently, the Savannah River entrance channel deepening is approximately 60 percent complete. In the near future, this portion of the project will benefit ship traffic by opening a wider tidal window and greater scheduling flexibility for neo-Panamax vessels – those ships that can now fit through the Panama Canal’s expanded locks.”

Already, the Port of Savannah is serving vessels up to 10,700 TEUs, and is expected to handle a 13,000 TEU vessel in May, Lynch said.

“We are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our elected officials in Washington, and Gov. Nathan Deal’s office to ensure that the appropriate funding is in place to complete the Savannah Harbor deepening in a timely manner,” he said.

Although the estimated cost of the project has recently increased to $973 million, Lynch pointed out that the Corps has also released new benefit projections.

“The benefit-to-cost ratio of the project has significantly increased from 5.5:1, to 7.3:1, making it one of the largest returns on investment to taxpayers of any navigation project in the country.

“In addition, the net benefit of cost savings for shippers and consumers increased from $174 million per year to $282 million per year – an improvement of more than $100 million in benefit returned to the nation every year for the next 50 years.”

Lynch said the expected total savings to the nation during this 50-year span is $14.1 billion, a 62 percent increase over the original estimated benefit of $8.7 billion.

“In fact, cost savings to shippers and cargo owners in one year alone is more than the additional cost of the project,” he said.

While beachgoers may see the offshore dredges working, much of the work on SHEP isn’t as visible. Here is the latest progress report:

  • Contribution to the striped bass stocking program – complete
  • Purchase of 2,245 acres of wetlands for Savannah National Wildlife Refuge mitigation – complete
  • Removal of CSS Georgia – 80 percent complete
  • Deepen entrance channel to 49 feet and extend seven miles – 55 percent complete
  • Construct dissolved oxygen systems – 28 percent complete
  • Construct raw water storage impoundment – 65 percent complete
  • Remove tidal gates, abutments – 48 percent complete.
  • Raise disposal area dikes – 64 percent complete

Completion of the massive project can’t come soon enough for the nation’s retailers.

According to the National Retail Federation, imports at the nation’s major retail container ports, including Savannah, should continue to see strong increases throughout the spring and summer as the nation’s economy improves.

“Consumers are spending more,…

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