Savannah, Ga. – April 11, 2012 – After 15 years of study, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) announced today that it had released the final documents for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) for review by state and federal agencies and the general public.
“The study released today clearly shows that the deepening of the Savannah port will produce powerful economic benefits to the nation and to Georgia,” said Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. “Today marks an important milestone for the Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Georgia and the great number of Americans who will benefit from the project.”
In the studies released by the Corps, the project is estimated to cost $652 million and will provide $174 million in annual net benefits to the nation. For every dollar spent on this critical infrastructure improvement, 5.5 dollars will be returned in benefits to the nation, the Corps’ studies showed.
“This study has been a model of collaboration among a wide array of stakeholders – at local, state, and federal levels,” said Major General Todd Semonite, commander of the Corps of Engineers’ South Atlantic Division. “It has been a great pleasure to be on this team as it worked diligently through difficult issues to come up with a plan which balances the complex engineering, economic, and environmental aspects of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. It is an impressive achievement.”
During a press conference, the USACE announced that the SHEP will increase the depth of the Savannah River by an additional five feet to 47 feet at mean low water. “We all know how critical this extra depth is to the ability of our nation to move cargo efficiently,” said Curtis Foltz, GPA’s Executive Director. “The depth, along with an average seven foot tide, strikes the right balance between the needs of our industry and the environment of the Savannah River. Nearly 40 percent of the project cost is dedicated to environmental mitigation, preservation of cultural resources or the improvements to river access for the public.”
Elected officials and business leaders throughout the region heralded the news today (please see quotes below) as a critical step forward in attracting investment and retaining jobs and business. “Today’s announcement brings to an end 15 years of exhaustive due diligence,” said Alec Poitevint, GPA’s Chairman of the Board. “With this important step forward, we are closer to putting in place infrastructure that will create economic opportunities across many industries and state lines. Companies relocate to and expand in the Southeastern United States knowing that the Port of Savannah is the fourth busiest and single largest container terminal in the U.S.”
During the news conference, Corps leaders urged the general public to communicate their support for the project to leadership throughout the country. Additional information regarding the details off the SHEP can be found at www.sas.usace.ary.mil/SHEP.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 295,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $15.5 billion in income, $61.7 billion in revenue and $2.6 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah was the second busiest U.S. container port for the export of American goods by tonnage in FY2011. It also handled 8.7 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.5 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in FY2011.