Georgia ports officials are edging closer to beginning work on the long-planned expansion of the Port of Savannah.
Dredging to deepen the port should begin by June, according to Robert Jepson, chairman of the Georgia Ports Authority Board.
Jepson says he's confident work will be underway when he completes his term as chairman this summer.
"When I came into this job, I promised there would be a dredge in the water before I left. Now either there’s gonna be a dredge in the water or I'm gonna have to extend my stay. But we think it'll be the first half of this year."
Jepson made the comments after a Monday board meeting.
Curtis Foltz, the Ports Authority's Executive Director, says he expects a key agreement that will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the bidding process for the project to be signed within 45 days.
”We need to do everything we can to get this deepening done as quickly as possible, and it can’t happen fast enough. And as our chairman just said, we would be disappointed if there isn’t dredging that’s begun in the first half of this year.”
Foltz says the work is important as ships are getting larger.
The Authority also says Georgia’s ports saw an 8 percent increase in total tonnage shipped in the first half of the fiscal year. Growth is expected to continue at a somewhat slower pace for the next six months.
Governor Nathan Deal said in his State of the State address this month that he intends for the harbor deepening project to get underway this year.