House Approves Bill to Help Fund Savannah Harbor Deepening - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

House Approves Bill to Help Fund Savannah Harbor Deepening

House Approves Bill to Help Fund Savannah Harbor Deepening

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -

The U.S. House of Representatives late today passed bipartisan legislation that according to Congressman Jack Kingston, helps clear the way for Georgia's number one economic development initiative: the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

The Water Resources Reform and Development act funds a number of projects nationwide, apparently including the harbor deepening project. The cost for that project is now about $652 million dollars.

"This is a huge win not just for Georgia but for our entire country," said Congressman Jack who sponsored the project when Congress first authorized it in 1999. "While our deep water ports support 352,000 jobs here at home, 75 percent of the 21,000 companies we service are based in other states. Moreover, completion of the project will free up $231 million in private capital annually that can be invested in business expansion and job creation."

Savannah's harbor must be deepened from 42 to 47 feet in order to accommodate larger vessels expected to come through expanded Panama Canal in 2015.

According to Kingston's office, the 14-year, $41 million study of the project represents the most extensive study of the Savannah River Estuary in history.

"In the time the federal government has spent studying this project, China has taken a larger and deeper port from start to finish," said Kingston. "We cannot allow this to continue if we want to remain competitive."

Kingston says the legislation seeks to prevent future bureaucratic delays by setting hard deadlines on the time and cost of studies, consolidating and eliminating duplicative or unnecessary steps, and streamlining environmental reviews.

The Senate passed similar legislation in May which must be reconciled with the House's proposal before being sent to the President.

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