Georgia Ports Authority’s (GPA) executive director, Curtis Foltz described the release of the study as a significant step forward for the project, which addresses a critical need of the country’s transportation infrastructure.
As the fastest growing and fourth largest strategic container port in the USA, the Port of Savannah is responsible for moving 8.3% of the US containerised cargo volume and more than 18% of all East Coast container trade in FY2010.
The port boasts a uniquely balanced export-import ratio, handling 12% of all US containerised exports, representing a total of 1.14m teu.
In preparation for the Panama Canal Expansion in 2014, the GPA has embarked on an aggressive expansion and modernisation plan to accommodate newer, larger vessels that are already calling on the US East and Gulf Coasts.
The harbour expansion project, which has appropriated US$105m of construction funds to date, will deepen the river from its current depth of 12.7 metres (42 foot) to as much as 14.5 m (48 feet).
“The draft EIS represents the most exhaustive environmental study of the Savannah River estuary ever undertaken,” said Foltz. The US$40m scientific study details plans to avoid impacts to natural resources and proposes mitigation for any unavoidable impacts.
“This is one of the most important and productive civil works projects in the country that will maintain and create jobs and commerce throughout the nation, while significantly reducing transportation costs for US shippers,” said GPA’s Chairman of the Board Alec Poitevint.
He added that as the southeast’s gateway to the world, the harbour must be able to accommodate vessels without tidal restrictions in order to efficiently serve global commercial demands.
Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 295,000 and contribute US$15.5bn in income, US$61.7bn in revenue and US$2.6bn in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy.