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Deal: U.S. House Passage of Water Bill ‘Critical Victory’ for Port

"The port deepening will be Georgia’s largest economic development project and the positive impact on Atlanta cannot be overstated." - Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed

Courtesy Port of Savannah.TV Facebook
Courtesy Port of Savannah.TV Facebook
Patch Staff Report

Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday hailed the U.S. House passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) as a “critical victory” in the effort to deepen the Savannah Harbor, Georgia’s No. 1 economic development project. Senate and White House approval of this bipartisan legislation is expected to follow soon.

Senate passage of the $12.3 billion conference report for the WRRDA could come this week. 

“This landmark legislation will update an outdated spending cap that was put on the Savannah Harbor deepening project more than a decade ago, eliminating the last legislative hurdle and allowing us to use the money we have set aside to begin construction,” Deal said in a news release. “With the understanding that we’ll have a federal-state split on funding, Georgia has lived up to its promises. We’ve now put aside $266 million — the total state share. This project is vitally important for economic development and job creation not only in the Southeast, but nationally as well. In fact, our nation will begin to receive a 5-to-1 return on investment once this is completed.”

The bill authorizes $706 million for the dredging project, which includes both the state and federal portions.

“Georgia and its congressional delegation have worked diligently and patiently to see this project through to fruition, a project that the Obama administration has recognized as important on several occasions,” Deal said. “It was just last year that Vice President Biden stood dockside at the Port of Savannah and told Georgians we would get this project done ‘come hell or high water.’ We have been in regulatory purgatory for far too long, but today we have made significant headway. I am grateful to my former colleagues in Congress for doing their part to ensure Georgia is ready as the Panama Canal is enlarged. This has been a long time coming — simply put, it’s time to move dirt.”

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed applauded the passing of the WRRDA.

"This bipartisan measure, passed with overwhelming support (412 to 4), cuts federal red tape and bureaucracy and strengthens the nation’s water transportation networks to promote long-term competitiveness, prosperity, and economic growth. Specifically, the bill authorizes federal funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).

"The port deepening will be Georgia’s largest economic development project and the positive impact on Atlanta cannot be overstated. The project will fuel the state, region and city’s economic growth, strengthen our global competitiveness and accelerate Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport’s expansion as a leading logistics and cargo hub."

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