Thursday, February 7, 2008

Isakson, Chambliss, Kingston Voice Disappointment in Lack of Funds for Savannah Harbor Deepening Project

U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and U.S. Representative Jack Kingston, R-Ga., today voiced disappointment that funds to begin construction of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project were not included in President Bush’s fiscal year 2009 federal budget. The President’s budget calls for only $700,000 for preliminary engineering and design work for the project, but no includes no funding for construction.

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project was authorized in the Water Resources and Development Act of 1999 and will deepen the channel from 42 to 48 feet in order to accommodate larger cargo carriers and attract new business. Isakson, Chambliss and Kingston pledged to work hard to get the project included in both the House and Senate budget resolutions. They believe the project is critical to the Savannah port and to the entire state of Georgia.

“We are only in the beginning of the budget process and I intend to work with Senator Chambliss and Congressman Kingston to ensure the Port of Savannah receives funding for this crucial project,” Isakson said. “The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is one of the most important projects to our entire state and critical to the state’s economic future. This project is essential to helping the Port of Savannah maintain its position as a gateway for business to Georgia.”

“The Port of Savannah serves the entire U.S. -- not just Georgia -- and its volume has more than doubled in the last 10 years,” said Senator Chambliss. “It is expected to double again in the coming decade so completion of this project is critical for long term strategic development and economic vitality. We have a good team in place and are prepared to work to meet this need during the appropriations process.”

“The failure to fund SHEP is a perfect example of what happens when you leave decisions in the hands of Washington bureaucrats,” Congressman Kingston said. “The lack of funding is a shock and disappointment for a project of regional economic importance. This is the type of investment that would put Georgians back to work at a time when we need to revive the economy. We will work hard but, with the backlash against earmarks, getting funding will be an uphill battle.”

The Port of Savannah has become the fastest growing container port in the United States, and is now the second largest container port on the East Coast. Cargo volume has more than doubled in the past 10 years, Savannah is now responsible for moving more than 16 percent of the East Coast’s overseas container cargo, and both the State of Georgia and private companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in land-side facilities to increase efficiency.

However, the ability of the port to continue to expand and accommodate the economic growth of business activity throughout the East Coast and Midwest will be dramatically weakened if the port cannot be expanded to accommodate the larger vessels that will shortly dominate ocean commerce.

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