Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 10/29/12
Mayor Kasim Reed Applauds Final Approval of Savannah Harbor Expansion Project
Port deepening vital to economic growth of the state and metropolitan Atlanta region, said Mayor Reed
ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed on Monday said that the final approval of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will contribute greatly to economic development in the state and in metropolitan Atlanta, and ensure the region’s future competitiveness. SHEP is critical for the Port of Savannah – the fastest growing and fourth largest U.S. container port – to efficiently handle larger vessels, making U.S. cargo available to global markets.
Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy signed the Record of Decision on Friday, Oct. 26. The Record of Decision confirms that the proposed plan for Savannah Harbor channel improvements, including the associated mitigation, is in the national interest and meets the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act.
The decision also allows the project’s advancement to the construction phase. This action represents the culmination of 13 years of comprehensive studies and extensive agency coordination as required by Congress in the 1999 Water Resources Development Act.
“This deepening of the Port of Savannah is vital to the economic health of the state and metropolitan Atlanta region, and the recent decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is a major milestone,” said Mayor Reed. “I am pleased to have partnered with Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Georgia’s Congressional delegation on this project, which will bring well-paying jobs and opportunity to our state. Investment in our ports, roads, bridges, transit and airports is critical to get people back to work.”
Mayor Reed added: “The completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is crucial to achieving President Barack Obama’s goal of doubling U.S. exports, and his administration’s support of the port deepening is the right decision at the right time.”
Mayor Reed has long been a strong advocate of the port expansion project. In June 2011, he traveled to Washington D.C. with Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal to meet with U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to discuss the importance of the project. LaHood, who once said that Georgia needed to get its act together on transportation, praised the two leaders for putting aside partisan difference to work cooperatively on the port.
In November 2011, Mayor Reed and Gov. Deal joined forces again and traveled to Savannah when the Georgia Ports Authority hosted LaHood during a tour of the port. LaHood was briefed on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and its importance to the local, state and regional economy.
In July, Mayor Reed praised President Barack Obama for expediting the study of the deepening of the Port of Savannah among several other national and regional infrastructure projects. As part of President Obama’s We Can’t Wait initiative, the federal Office of Management and Budget led a government-wide effort to improve the permitting-and-review process. The Port of Savannah was among five major U.S. ports cited as nationally significant projects in the announcement, which also included the Port of Jacksonville, the Port of Miami, the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Port of Charleston.
The signing of the ROD completes the federal government’s review of the project’s justification and meets President Obama’s We Can’t Wait commitment of completing federal government decisions for this project by November 2012. This is a major milestone for SHEP.
Under SHEP, the Corps of Engineers would deepen the Savannah Harbor navigation channel from its current 42-foot depth to a 47-foot depth. Studies demonstrate the deepening will produce substantial economic benefits for the nation by enabling larger and more heavily loaded vessels to call on the harbor with fewer tidal delays. The total project cost estimate is currently $652 million. SHEP is expected to net more than $174 million in annual benefits to the nation and has a benefit-to-cost ratio of $5.50 for every $1 invested. Construction could begin as early as summer 2013.
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 handled 8.6 percent of the U.S. containerized cargo volume and 12.4 percent of all U.S. containerized exports in 2010.
# # #
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @City_of_Atlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed