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Tuesday, February 22, 2011 - 12:55pm

Lawmaker: Bill Not About Harbor Deepening

A bill in the state Senate would streamline private financing of river infrastructure projects.

The sponsor says, it's not about the Savannah harbor deepening.

State Sen. Ross Tolleson (R-Perry) says, his bill is designed to help water authorities negotiate with private companies who want to put up money to build reservoirs.

The idea is to promote building reservoirs and water infrastructure.

Tolleson says, he doubts his bill could be used to help the Savannah harbor deepening project.

"I don't know the legality of that," Tolleson says. "That's something that would have to be looked at by the Attorney General."

Tolleson says, his bill, SB 122, was not intended for harbor deepening, but it still would be an open legal question as to whether officials could use it that way.

"There is that potential there. But I'd still there'd have to be clarification whether it could go through a bill like this."

Harbor deepening is an increasingly urgent priority for state officials.

But the White House largely left the $500,000 project out of the latest federal budget.

Ports officials have said it's still too early to think about alternative financing for the port expansion.