By Meg Mirshak
U.S. Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, championed ongoing support for the Savannah River port expansion during a visit with constituents Friday.
Barrow spoke to a few dozen members of the Martinez-Evans Rotary Club luncheon at First Baptist Church of Augusta.
When asked about the port of Savannah, Barrow said, "I'm optimistic that we're going to complete that thing if only because the state of Georgia has a huge investment in this already."
Barrow, who represented Savannah before district lines were redrawn, said the state spent $44 million in 15 years settling lawsuits related to the port project, a contentious environmental issue.
The state has pledged its cost share of the expansion but federal funding is slowing progress and completion, he said.
"When I arrived on the scene, this was essentially a Savannah versus the rest of the state kind of thing," he said. "Members of Congress from that area did not see the connection between business in Atlanta and trade in Savannah. But they see it now."
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has said the state could shoulder more of the costs if Washington does not come up with its portion.