Deepening the Savannah harbor can begin following Thursday's award of a $134.5 million contract to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co. of Oak Brook, Illinois, by the Army Corps of Engineers. The contract covers deepening of the outer harbor, from near Fort Pulaski for 18.5 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.
Dredging the outer harbor is the first step to deepening the entire 40-mile shipping channel to the Georgia Ports Authority’s Garden City terminal.
"This award is a very significant part of deepening the Savannah Harbor," said Col. Tom Tickner, Savannah District commander. "About half of the channel dredging for SHEP is incorporated into this one contract. The 47-foot depth is a forthcoming reality and we are well on our way to putting a critical piece of transportation infrastructure in place that will benefit not only the southeast, but the entire nation."
The deepening, officially known as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, will enable large container ships to call on Savannah with greater ease, heavier cargoes and fewer tidal restraints than they currently experience.
"After 16 years of study, it is gratifying to know that we can now move forward with the deepening of the Savannah River," said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. "Today's announcement has been made possible, in part, by the state's $266 million investment into the port's expansion."
"The harbor deepening, which begins in earnest with this contract, supports long-term economic viability and growth for our state and nation," said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz. "The 21,000 American businesses that rely on the Port of Savannah are projected to save $174 million a year through increased transportation efficiency."
Each dollar invested in the SHEP will return $5.50 to the economy, supporters say.
The construction began in January when divers started recovering material from the CSS Georgia ironclad resting next to the shipping channel near Old Fort Jackson. The outer harbor dredging could begin soon. The outer harbor contract sets overall production goals, but grants Great Lakes Dredge and Dock discretion on scheduling, how and when to mobilize, and kinds of equipment to be used. These variables influence when a contractor actually begins dredging.