WABE News
6:21 pm
Fri June 7, 2013

Isakson Optimistic Savannah Port Project Will Get Congressional Fix

U.S. Senator Jonny Isakson of Georgia is optimistic the Savannah Port deepening project will get the congressional fix it needs to begin construction later this year.

When Congress approved plans for the project in 1999, it okayed a price tag of about $450 million. Since then, projected costs have jumped to about $650 million.

To begin construction, Congress must sign off on the higher spending cap.

The Senate did its part last month, adding the provision into the Water Resource Development Act. Now, the House must follow.

“That’s the switch that turns the lights on,” said Iskason. “As soon as it’s passed and it becomes law, within a week they can start the project.”

Isakson said he’s received positive signs from Bill Shuster, the chairman of the House committee considering the bill.

“Chairman Shuster in the House has said he wants to do a WRDA bill. The Senate has done it, passed it overwhelmingly, so it’s going to be there.”

Georgia officials are scrambling to begin construction to accommodate the larger ships expected once the Panama Canal is expanded in 2015.

Gov. Nathan Deal wants the federal government to cover about 60 percent of project costs. Very little has so far materialized. But Deal says if the spending cap is raised, construction will move forward with existing state funds.