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Friday, January 28, 2011 - 2:14pm

Deal, Chambliss Urge Federal Port Dollars

Governor Nathan Deal made his first trip outside Metro Atlanta since becoming Governor.

And it should come as no surprise that he visited the Port of Savannah.

Deal and other state leadership have made deepening the Savannah harbor a priority and lately the project has been a guaranteed applause line for Deal.

He put $32 million in his proposed budget for harbor deepening.

The Governor says, now the federal government should do its part.

"We believe that this is a project that has significance not just for this area of the state or the state itself but for the entire Southeast and the entire eastern side of the United States," Deal says.

Ports officials gave Deal and US Senator Saxby Chambliss a good look at why they think the Savannah port needs to be deepened.

Ports officials showed Deal and Chambliss... an empty dock.

A large container ship, the Parsifal, was not in port because it had to wait offshore.

It's too big for the current harbor depth and had to wait for high tide to come to port.

Chambliss says, Georgia stands to lose business if the harbor isn't deepened.

"We have a ship that is having to sit out in the ocean and await the change in the tides to come into the port here at Savannah to be unloaded," Chamliss says. "It's causing that ship line about a hundred thousand dollars to sit out there an extra 12-hours."

Environmental groups challenge the idea that jobs are at stake in the harbor deepening.

Georgia will find out in just weeks whether the Obama administration has put harbor deepening in its proposed budget.

Harbor deepening could cost between $500 million and $600 million, with the federal government picking up two-thirds of the total cost.

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