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Friday, May 9, 2014 - 1:07pm

Congress Reaches Compromise On Water Bill Critical To Savannah Port Expansion

A $652 million project to deepen the Port of Savannah is closer to getting started.

House and Senate negotiators in Washington said Friday they've reached a compromise waiver on a water projects bill.

Details of the bill were not immediately released, but officials hope that compromise means the Savannah harbor deepening can begin this year.

Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson said the last step involves the Office of Management and Budget signing a partnership agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Now with the 902 waiver there’s no excuse for a delay. But until it’s done, you don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched,” said Isakson.

Isakson said the state still needs federal assurances that it will get a match for the money it spends.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal released a statement Friday:

“I appreciate the delegation's bipartisan dedication to getting this done. It looks as though we are closer than ever to starting a project that will foster economic growth and pay dividends for generations of Georgians.”

Deal has said the state is willing to use its money to begin the prep work for the port expansion, and is putting up more than a third of the total price tag.

The harbor deepening project has been in the works for 15 years. Officials say the expansion is necessary to allow bigger ships into the port.