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Thursday, January 10, 2013 - 2:05pm

Reed Still Backing Port Expansion

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says the next step for the Savannah harbor deepening is landing an earmark for the funds in the federal budget. Speaking at the Atlanta Press Club Thursday, he said the port is a key part of his bid to make Atlanta the logistics hub for the Western Hemisphere.

Reed said that he’s a committed supporter to the $650 million harbor deepening at the Savannah port because it means more jobs. He said he similarly supported Gov. Nathan Deal when he wooed Caterpillar to open a plant in the Athens area.

And he said the state has all of the approvals it needs to move forward with the port expansion.

“Before we didn’t have the approvals even if we had the money," he told business and civic leaders. "So now we have every single approval we need and now it’s just a matter of getting the port in the President’s budget.”

It won’t be easy to inserting an earmark for the remainder of the funding in the federal budget. But he remains optimistic that the project will happen because of Georgia’s wider transportation infrastructure.

“We’ve got the most successful passenger airport in the world," "We have rapidly expanding cargo capability. We have the fastest growing port on the Eastern Seaboard. We have more than 101 clearances from 4 different administrations and a record of decisions from the Army Corps of Engineers for our port deepening.”

Gov. Deal plans to include $50 million in funding in this year’s state budget. That would bring state funding of project to $231 million.

Deepening the port will allow for larger ships that coming through the Panama Canal.

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