President Barack Obama's proposed fiscal year 2013 budget includes $2.8 million towards the $600 million project to deepen the Port of Savannah, one of the nation's busiest.
Supporters of the project pushed for $105 million ahead of the project's final federal approval, expected later this year.
Gov. Nathan Deal says the proposed funding "will allow this project to stay on track." Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed have traveled frequently to Washington in the last year to lobby for the project. Reed spokeswoman Sonji Jacobs said Monday's funding announcement is proof their efforts are paying off.
The harbor project will prepare a new class of larger container ships ahead of the Panama Canal expansion, expected to be complete in 2014.
The Savannah expansion is anticipated for completion by 2016.
Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers announced another $2.5 million for preconstruction work.