U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., today praised the Senate passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2013, which contained a key provision to allow the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to move forward.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2013, S.601, also known as "WRDA," was agreed to by a vote of 83 to 14. The legislation now goes to the House for consideration.
"I am delighted that the Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act today, as it represents major progress in terms of allowing the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to move forward. The port of Savannah is critically important to our state and local economies, and I will continue to work to see this project through to its completion," said Isakson. "I also look forward to working with our colleagues in the House to improve the WRDA bill as it now moves to that chamber for consideration."
"I am pleased that passage of this bill will clear the path for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to move forward by addressing the project's authorization level. I thank Chairman Boxer and Ranking Member Vitter for their assistance with this important project, and for understanding the water resource needs of the country," said Chambliss. "While I remain concerned with other provisions in the bill, it is my hope that these can be remedied as the legislative process moves forward."
Specifically, the legislation contains a provision to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with projects such as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project that have a current cost higher than the amount Congress authorized for them years ago when the projects were first proposed.
Deepening the Savannah Harbor from 42 to 47 feet will accommodate an increase in the number of super-sized container vessels transiting the Panama Canal after its 2015 expansion. Studies by the Army Corps of Engineers show a 5.5-to-1 benefit to cost ratio, meaning that for every dollar spent on the deepening, the nation will reap $5.50 in benefits.
According to the Georgia Ports Authority, Georgia's deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 352,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $18.5 billion in income, $66.9 billion in revenue and $2.5 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia's economy. The Port of Savannah was the second busiest U.S. container port for the export of American goods by tonnage.