Savannah harbor project to affect Augusta

After years of research and study, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project is getting closer to becoming a reality.

Jamie McCurry, director of administration for the Georgia Ports Authority, addressed a group of CSRA leaders in a luncheon hosted by Augusta Tomorrow, Inc. detailing the expansion project and how it will affect the Augusta area.

“This region is one of the primary beneficiaries,” McCurry said.

The expansion project started in 1996 to deepen the Savannah Harbor from its current depth of 42 feet up to a maximum depth of 48 feet. This will allow larger ships to pass in and out of the harbor, increasing the volume of trade.

The Panama Canal is also currently expanding, making the Savannah Harbor project even more important, McCurry said.

“We need this in the South Atlantic, we need this for the state of Georgia, but we need this as a nation as well,” he said of the economic increase.

Although Savannah is the fourth largest port by container volume in the United States, contributing 8.6 percent of total U.S. container-based trade, it is the shallowest major port in the world.

Richard Fairey, vice president of Augusta Tomorrow, emphasized to the group how important it was for the CSRA to get behind the expansion project now in order to get in on the growth for years to come.

“We need to be asking, how can Augusta and the CSRA be involved in this? We want to be involved,” he said.

The Panama Canal expansion will be completed by 2014, but McCurry said he predicts the Savannah Harbor project will be completed at the earliest by 2016.

“It’s past time for this to happen,” he said.

Reach Gracie Shepherd at (706) 724-0851 or gracie.shepherd@gmail.com

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