SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – This week, when the mega-ship Marco Polo made its way to the Port of Savannah, state lawmakers said it brought to light the importance of the harbor deepening.
But it also highlighted something else — the Talmadge Bridge and how it fits into the future of global trade.
The huge ship cleared the 185 foot bridge Wednesday with just feet to spare.
“I talked to the folks who came in the Marco Polo, and they said it felt like they could reach up and touch the bottom of the bridge,” says State Rep. Ron Stephens, from Savannah. “I never thought we’d see that, but we’re coming close, and we’ve got to make some long-term decisions. The bridge at some point will be too low.”
Stephens says more big ships mean opportunity — and that the harbor deepening has been key — but now, the bridge may take front and center.
“I know it seems like yesterday when the bridge was built and, of course, we never dreamed that ships would be this big,” said Stephens.
He also told WSAV that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is studying the future of the bridge and whether it needs to be replaced.
In 2018, the Georgia Ports Authority said it was beginning to work with GDOT and state lawmakers toward a solution and at the time, indicated a new bridge should be built perhaps within a decade.
Stephens said this week marked a turning point, i.e., now that the big ships are coming, the state needs to look toward a future solution.
“As these ships get bigger, we make sure that we have clearance,” said Stephens,.
Ann Purcell, the 1st district representative on the state transportation board, confirmed a study is underway but said it is in the early stages.