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Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:43am

Harbor Deepening Not As Deep

Georgia ports officials planning to deepen Savannah's harbor are shrinking their plans by a foot.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials today released their long-awaited final report on the harbor project.

The report took 15 years to complete and details every aspect of the project.

It recommends deepening the harbor to 47 feet.

Georgia ports officials originally wanted the navigation channel down to 48 feet to accommodate super-sized ships.

Georgia Ports Authority Director Curtis Foltz says, the final report shows 47 feet is the optimal level for serving ships long-term.

"We are extremely excited about where this project is now," Foltz says. "The Army Corp of Engineers has done an outstanding job. This is a good day for commerce, trade and all of our customers."

Corps of Engineers Savannah District Commander Colonel Jeffrey Hall says, the one foot decrease will create a better cost-benefit ratio and prevent some of the negative environmental impacts.

"We studied deepening to 48 but concluded, the nation gains the greatest net benefit, $174 million annually, at the 47 foot depth," Hall says. "We are confident that our report is thorough and strong, and that the project will enhance the nation's global competitiveness while sustaining the natural environment."

The updated project will cost taxpayers $650 million.

That's $50 million more than previously planned.

Corps officials say, most of the cost increase comes from new environmental mitigation projects, including re-routing some creeks to reduce marsh damage.

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