Governor Kemp and Congressional Delegation Push for Federal Study on Savannah Harbor Updates

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On March 25, 2024, Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp emphasized the need for a federal study to assess necessary harbor updates at the Port of Savannah, the nation’s third-busiest gateway for containerized trade. Joined by Congressman Sam Graves, R-Mo, Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, as well as Georgia Congressmen Buddy Carter and Mike Collins, Governor Kemp highlighted the significance of the port for Georgia and beyond.

Governor Kemp stated, “The Port of Savannah isn’t just one of Georgia’s greatest economic engines, it’s also an asset for the entire Southeast region and beyond.” He emphasized that improvements to the Savannah Harbor would benefit the nation as a whole, providing access to global markets amid the growth in ocean carriers’ vessel capacity.

The Port of Savannah currently serves international destinations through 37 weekly vessel services and domestic markets like Atlanta. Port officials stress the need for updates to the Savannah River channel to meet current global shipping demands.

GPA Board Chairman Kent Fountain highlighted the potential for larger ships to call at Savannah, stating, “Clearing the way for larger ships to make a port of call in Savannah will allow vessels with up to 50 percent greater capacity to serve the entire U.S. East Coast.”

Seeking authorization for a Savannah Harbor Improvement Project study in the 2024 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), Georgia’s Congressional delegation aims to determine the optimal depth and width of the harbor for potential future improvements.

Representative Buddy Carter expressed support for the port’s expansion plans, stating, “Georgia’s First Congressional District is experiencing tremendous growth, and it is encouraging that the Georgia Ports Authority is planning for this expansion.”

Representative Mike Collins emphasized the importance of port improvements for the nation, stating, “Improvements to the port will pay dividends for the whole country and help keep Georgia the best place for business in America.”

The completion of the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) in March 2022 deepened the river from 42 to 47 feet at low tide. However, the current depth limits the loading capacity of larger vessels calling at Savannah, highlighting the need for further enhancements.

GPA President and CEO Griff Lynch emphasized the benefits of a deeper, wider harbor, stating, “A deeper, wider harbor will allow vessels to move more cargo and transit the channel more quickly, getting U.S. exports to global markets with greater efficiency and lower emissions.”

The push for a federal study underscores the importance of the Port of Savannah as a vital economic asset, both for Georgia and the entire nation.

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