The twin engines that drive the economy of Georgia and most of the Southeast are Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and the Port of Savannah. We take seriously the provision in the U.S. Constitution that grants Congress the power to regulate commerce, including our navigational waterways and ports.
The Port of Savannah is the second-largest container port on the East Coast. It is the fourth-largest in the country. More than 20,975 companies throughout all 50 states utilize the Port of Savannah.
The Georgia Ports Authority and Georgia are leading the way in the nation by undertaking a project to deepen the Savannah port’s channel up to 48 feet. It’s a direct response to the Panama Canal’s expansion and widening.
As a result, shipping vessels are modernizing their fleets and purchasing larger vessels. To accommodate these vessels, improvements must be made to our nation’s existing infrastructure, including Savannah.
Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. and Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
Deepening the port will protect existing jobs and create ones as these larger vessels call in the Port of Savannah. Economic growth throughout the East Coast and Midwest could be dramatically weakened if the port cannot be expanded to accommodate the larger vessels that will soon dominate ocean commerce.
At a time when the administration seeks to invest in projects that will create jobs in America, this project in Savannah is a perfect fit. Studies show that expanding the port would only help the goals of creating jobs as well as stimulating economic growth.
Opponents of the harbor expansion who cite “too many unknowns” about the project fail to consider certain irrefutable facts.
For example, the project has been studied and reviewed by engineers, environmentalists and economists since 1999. It’s one of the most studied projects in our state’s history. Independent studies conducted by the U.S. Army Engineer Institute for Water Resources and the Center of Expertise for Deep Draft Navigation show this investment in Savannah will have a benefit-to-cost ratio of nearly five to one. For every dollar spent, the economic benefit is five times as many dollars.
Additionally, as a result of the recommendations of federal, state and local natural-resource agencies, as well as independent environmental groups who participated in these studies over the past decade, the project contains long-term funding for unprecedented amounts of environmental mitigation. There are no “unknowns” regarding the Savannah Harbor project.
It’s critically important that we expand the harbor to ensure that it serves as a gateway for business to Georgia and the nation. We will work relentlessly alongside state and members of the Georgia delegation to create jobs and stimulate economic growth in Georgia and the Southeast.
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