The Marietta Daily Journal – Going Deep Deal right to start project now not later

14
Jun

The Marietta Daily Journal – Going Deep Deal right to start project now not later

Georgia has its place on more than its share of “Top 10” lists — everything from World’s Busiest Airport to among the world’s top producers of peanuts and peaches. It also is on the country’s “Top 5 List” for a distinction that few realize, especially those who live in our part of the state. That is, Savannah is the country’s fourth-busiest port, and second only to the Port of New York (including NYC and New Jersey) on the East Coast. More than 2.9 million containers moved through Savannah last year as imports or exports.

That sounds great, but it is crucial that Savannah’s harbor be deepened for it to remain competitive. That’s because supersized cargo ships will soon be plying East Coast waters when the widening of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015. Without the deepening, they would not be able to access the city’s port facilities.

Washington has signed off on the widening project and on similar projects in other ports. In Savannah’s case, it would mean dredging five feet of sand from the channel along 30 miles near the mouth of the Savannah River.

How important is the project not just to Savannah, but to all of Georgia? Well consider this: One of every 15 jobs in Georgia is dependent on the state’s ports, primarily Savannah. That’s approximately 295,000 jobs, which in turn generate $2.6 billion in state and local taxes and $61.7 billion in annual revenue, according to the Georgia Ports Authority.

And among the most outspoken supporters of the expansion has been none other than Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who, like Gov. Nathan Deal, understands the importance of making it easy for Georgia to keep doing business with its biggest trading partner — Asia.

Much to his credit, and with the clock steadily ticking, Deal says he’s willing to use state money to jump-start the project. The state is required to pay for 40 percent of the project. But rather than wait on Washington, the governor said he’s ready to use the state’s share “up front” to get things going.

via The Marietta Daily Journal – Going Deep Deal right to start project now not later.

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