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Thursday, September 2, 2010 - 12:13pm

Savannah Harbor Will Miss Deadline

Updated: 4 years ago.
Savannah recently welcomed the largest ship ever to call on its port. Officials now say the port will not be ready when more of these larger ships start sailing the Panama Canal in 2014. (photo Georgia Ports Authority)

The head of the Georgia Ports Authority says, a critical harbor deepening project won't be finished by 2014.

That's when larger ships will be sailing through the Panama Canal.

Ports officials wanted the Savannah harbor deepened from 42 to 48 feet in time for the Panama project, but that won't happen.

Just with construction time, they'd have to be digging now to make 2014.

The delay is getting the US Army Corp of Engineers to sign off on the project's environmental and economic impacts.

Ports Authority Director Curtis Foltz says, it'll now be 2015 "if the stars align."

"As long as we see the end in sight sometime in 2015, I think our customers understand that and will continue to support our ports," Foltz says. "But we can ill afford any further delays if we're going to continue to support trade and continue to support growth for this region."

At this point, GPA expects the Corp of Engineers to make a decision by this time next year, which is where the 2015 date comes from.

In addition to the Corp of Engineers, GPA also still needs Congress to approve most of the project's half-billion-dollar cost.

Savannah area Congressman Jack Kingston says that, also, will be "heavy lifting" with the federal budget.

The remarks came at a forum designed to sound an alarm for local business leaders.

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