Mayor Kasim Reed joined Vice President Joseph Biden, Governor Nathan Deal, Georgia Senators Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, and Congressman Jack Kingston at the Port of Savannah this week.
“I appreciate Vice President Joe Biden’s support of vital infrastructure projects that create well-paying jobs and lead to sustained job creation,” said Reed. “I am pleased to join Gov. Nathan Deal, Sen. Johnny Isakson, Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Congressman Jack Kingston to continue advocating strongly for the deepening of the Port of Savannah right away, which along with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, helps fuel Georgia’s economic health and allows our region and state to remain globally competitive.”
After touring the port, Biden called for expediting port improvement projects on the U.S. East Coast.
“The Georgia Ports Authority is an impressive operation, but the Port of Savannah, like others along the East Coast, must prepare for the future of shipping,” Biden said. “U.S. harbors must be deepened to accommodate larger, more efficient Post-Panamax vessels in order for the nation to benefit from the cost savings allowed by these larger ships.”
Post-Panamax vessels are too large to transit the current Panama Canal. By deepening the Savannah River to 47 feet, the project will enable the port to more efficiently serve the larger vessels expected to call in greater numbers after the canal’s 2015 expansion. Lower prices per container slot on Post-Panamax ships will save U.S. companies shipping goods through Savannah 20 to 40 percent on transportation.
“Deeper ports for the East Coast are to the 21st century what President Eisenhower’s interstate system was to the 20th – a vital connection between commerce and consumers,” Biden said. “Our message today is that by deepening our ports, we make U.S. exports more competitive, create new economic opportunities and, ultimately, new jobs for Americans.”
Deal, working with the Georgia General Assembly, has allocated $231 million toward the project, which now awaits only an update from Congress to the current construction budget of $652 million. Deal expressed his appreciation for Georgia’s entire Washington delegation, which has unanimously supported the deepening of the port in a letter to President Obama
Reed has long worked to urge Congress to fund the deepening of the Port of Savannah and in July 2012, Reed praised Obama for expediting the study of the deepening of the Port of Savannah among several other national and regional infrastructure projects.
As part of the president’s We Can’t Wait initiative, the federal Office of Management and Budget led a government-wide effort to improve the permitting-and-review process. The Port of Savannah was among five major U.S. ports cited as nationally significant projects in the announcement, which also included the Port of Jacksonville, the Port of Miami, the Port of New York and New Jersey and the Port of Charleston.