News Releases

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Isakson Presses for Answers Regarding Administration's Failure to Adequately Support Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

Receives commitment from Treasury secretary to explore opportunities for additional funding for project

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today voiced his disappointment regarding the lack of sufficient funding for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project during the Senate Finance Committee’s hearing on President Trump’s proposed budget for the U.S. Treasury Department. Isakson also called for, and received, a commitment from U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to help find ways to obtain additional funds and ensure an on-time completion for the critical infrastructure project.

“We were disappointed that there was no inclusion in the Army Corps of Engineers’ construction budget for the Savannah port,” said Isakson at today’s hearing. “The state of Georgia has put $266 million dollars of its own money in that port in a joint venture partnership with the United States federal government. We’re in the process of deepening it now, and all of a sudden there is no additional money in there for this year’s budget. Without this additional money, it puts the project at a higher cost in future years.”

Isakson urged Secretary Mnuchin to work with him on additional funding. “I’d appreciate you working with me to look at that to see if there is not some way that we can reprioritize capital apportionment this year to see that Savannah gets additional funding. That is an important issue.”

The total cost of the Savannah Harbor project is $973 million. If the federal government allots less than $80-$100 million annually during the duration of the project, it cannot be completed on time and the resulting delays could ultimately cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project received just $50.06 million dollars in the president’s fiscal year 2018 budget request that was released this week.

Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers provided no additional funding in its construction budget for the current fiscal year, which Congress supplemented with an additional $800 million, to assist in ensuring construction remains on schedule.

“I am disappointed by the failure of the Army Corps of Engineers to allocate any additional funding for the nation’s most economically significant water infrastructure project,” said Isakson in response. “Additionally, while I greatly appreciate that the administration’s funding request is an increase from the last president’s budget, it still falls short of what we need to ensure on-time completion. Rest assured that I will continue fighting in Congress to secure sufficient funding for this worthy project to be completed without further delays.”

Background:

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project has broad bipartisan support from Georgia’s local, state and federal leaders. The final Project Partnership Agreement between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority to allow construction to begin on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project was signed on October 8, 2014.

The U.S. Constitution gives the federal government authority over navigable waters; therefore, the government has a role in funding the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. The project is being undertaken to accommodate the larger vessels carrying goods through the expansion of the Panama Canal.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will bring $282 million in annual net benefits to the United States and will allow for an additional 3,600 cargo containers in each transit, an increase of 78 percent. Recognizing the economic impact the port has on Georgia’s economy and the Southeast region of the country, Senators Isakson and Perdue and Representative Buddy Carter have consistently supported the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

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