Finally, after nearly two decades of engineering and environmental studies, bureaucratic delays and political shenanigans, the 41-mile long deepening of the Savannah River can begin. (Video by Brant Sanderlin, Ryon Horne/AJC)

Five things to know as Savannah River deepening reaches midway point

The state announced Wednesday that crews have finished the outer harbor portion of the project to deepen the Savannah River channel. 

Here are five things to know about the project:

1) The nearly $1 billion project would deepen the channel to 47 feet to 42 feet. It would permit newer and larger freighters to ply the waters of the river with greater flexibility.

2) The Trump administration in its latest budget request called on Congress to set aside $49 million for dredging work for the 2019 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. That’s roughly half of what boosters say they need to keep the project on track. 

The 600-foot cargo ship Kaan Kalkavan navigates up the Savannah River to the Port of Savannah in 2014. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM .
Photo: Brant Sanderlin/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

3) Georgia lawmakers say they are pushing for more funding, but the earmark ban effectively ties Congress’ hands when it comes to setting aside money for specific projects such as Savannah. Congress could approve more money for a broader Army Corps construction account, but it’s bureaucrats who would have the ultimate discretion for whether that money goes to the project. The feds passed on giving the project additional dollars last year. 

4) Cargo traffic to Georgia’s ports in Savannah and Brunswick have has surged in recent years. In Savannah, ports officials say that’s in large part because of the opening of the expanded Panama Canal. 

5) At a conference in early February, the ports authority said it is forming plans for a 10-year, $2.3 billion expansion that would more than double the container capacity in Savannah. 

Staff writer Tamar Hallerman contributed to this article. 

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