Business

Savannah Port Expansion Set To Begin Ahead Of Schedule

Numerous ship to shore cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Savannah, Ga. A midyear growth spurt in cargo volumes has the Port of Savannah on target to handle a record 3 million containers of imports and exports by the end of the fiscal year this summer, Georgia’s top ports executive said Monday. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Numerous ship to shore cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014, in Savannah, Ga. A midyear growth spurt in cargo volumes has the Port of Savannah on target to handle a record 3 million containers of imports and exports by the end of the fiscal year this summer, Georgia’s top ports executive said Monday. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton)
Credit Stephen B. Morton / AP Photo

A record-breaking amount of cargo moved through the Port of Savannah last year. The port, the nation’s fourth busiest, handled 3.6 million shipping containers in 2014, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. And traffic is expected to increase even more with the expansion of the Savannah Harbor.

The dredging of the Savannah River is an important step in the expansion project and is now scheduled to begin in September, months ahead of schedule, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently announced.

“The idea is to take the port from up to 47 feet depth and they need to do that in Savannah in order to remain competitive,” writer Dave Williams with the Atlanta Business Chronicle said during an interview on “A Closer Look.”

“The reason they need to deepen the port is because there’s going to be some really large ships – the super, super containerized vessels that are going to be going through the Panama Canal when the widening project there, a significant widening of the Panama Canal is done next year,” Williams explained.

“There’s going to be much larger containerized vessels out there and right now, the way the tides work in Savannah and the depth of the harbor, they can’t come into the harbor,” he added.

The Savannah Harbor expansion project includes deepening the inner harbor five feet, from 42 to 47 feet deep and deepening the entrance channel to 49 feet, according to the Georgia Ports Authority. It also includes extending the entrance channel by 7 miles, and enlarging the Kings Island Turning Basin at the Garden City Terminal.

The project is expected to cost more than $700 million.

Williams discussed the expansion of the Port of Savannah, why Atlanta officials and other businesses support it, inland ports, and more on “A Closer Look.”