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Tuesday, June 10, 2014 - 1:18pm

President Obama Signs Bill Greenlighting Savannah Harbor Expansion

Savannah’s harbor expansion is moving forward following the signing of a key bill Tuesday. President Obama signed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, or WRRDA green lighting the deepening of the Port of Savannah.

The Savannah Harbor project is one of 34 water infrastructure projects covered by the bill that Obama said will be key for the economy.

“As more of the world’s cargo is transported on these massive ships, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got bridges high enough and ports that are big enough to hold them and accommodate them so that our businesses can keep selling goods made in America to the rest of the world,” said Obama during the Tuesday signing.

The president says the WRRDA projects will also create jobs and help maintain international trade.

Curtis Foltz , the Georgia Ports Authority’s Executive Director, says Tuesday’s bill-signing is a major milestone after more than a decade of work.
“It’s nice to put that in the rearview mirror and start looking toward construction,” said Foltz.

One final step is needed: an agreement between the U-S Army Corps of Engineers and the state of Georgia outlining details of the project. Foltz says that’s likely to be finished in two or three months.

The bill also does not include any federal funding for this year. However, it paves the way for future federal funding for the project.

“You need to consider it almost like a total pot of money. In essence the state is advancing some federal dollars just so that we ensure the project does not incur any further delays,” said Foltz.

Foltz says he expects federal funding for the Savannah harbor work in the next federal budget.

Port officials say they expect work on the harbor deepening to begin this year with state funds.

Georgia is putting up $266 million toward the project.