The following letter from Griff Lynch, Executive Director of the Georgia Ports Authority, provides an update on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The work will deepen the inner harbor to 47 feet at low tide and 54 feet at high tide to accommodate the new Panamax ships.
Dear friends and colleagues,
I wanted to take a moment to let you know about some recent developments regarding both the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project and the Brunswick Harbor maintenance effort.
Currently, the Savannah River entrance channel deepening is approximately 60 percent complete. In the near future, this portion of the project will benefit ship traffic by opening a wider tidal window and greater scheduling flexibility for neo-Panamax vessels. At present, the Port of Savannah is serving vessels up to 10,700 TEUs, and is expected to handle a 13,000 TEU vessel in May.
We are working closely with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, our elected officials in Washington, and Gov. Nathan Deal’s office to ensure that the appropriate funding is in place to complete the Savannah Harbor deepening in a timely manner.
Although the estimated cost of the project has recently increased to $973 million, the Corps has also released new benefit projections. The benefit to cost ratio of the project has significantly increased from 5.5:1, to 7.3:1 – one of the largest returns on investment on a navigation project for taxpayers in the country.
In addition, the net benefit of cost savings for shippers and consumers increased from $174 million per year to $282 million per year – an improvement of more than $100 million in benefit returned to the nation every year for the next 50 years. The expected total savings to the nation during this 50-year span is $14.1 billion, a 62 percent increase over the original estimated benefit of $8.7 billion.
In fact, cost savings to shippers and cargo owners in one year alone is more than the additional cost of the project.
At the Port of Brunswick, the FY2017 entrance channel maintenance dredging was completed in March. Following this most recent dredging, the Corps estimates channel depths up to 37 feet – the deepest draft for Brunswick in several years.
Expanding the Savannah Harbor and maintaining Brunswick’s deeper draft are vital links to the future of maritime trade in Georgia. Along with other efforts to expand the state’s logistics network, these initiatives will strengthen Georgia’s position as a gateway to global commerce for the nation.
Georgia Ports Authority