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Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - 12:25pm

Senate Bill Clears Way For Harbor Deepening

A water projects bill approved by the U.S. Senate contains a provision that would remove a bureaucratic obstacle to deepening the Savannah harbor.

Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss both praised passage Wednesday of the new Water Resources Development Act, which still needs approval by the House. The bill would remove a spending cap of $459 million placed on the harbor deepening project in 1999. The Army Corps of Engineers now estimates the project will cost $652 million.

Like other East Coast seaports, Savannah is scrambling to deepen its shipping channel to accommodate supersized cargo ships expected to arrive via an expanded Panama Canal in 2015.

Georgia officials hope to star dredging this year. Eliminating the spending limit would allow federal and state officials to finalize a cost-sharing agreement.