The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a $134.5 million contract to the Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to begin dredging work for the expansion of the Savannah Harbor.
The project, known as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) deepening the entrance channel to a depth of 47 feet and represents the first step in deepening the 40 mile long shipping channel and harbor. It's intended to enable larger container ships to use the harbor.
Great Lakes plans on using a mix of cutter suction and hopper dredges to perform the work. Dredging operations are expected to commence later this year and be completed by summer 2018.
The project is part of the $706 million Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP). Georgia has committed $266 million to that project.
"This award is a very significant part of deepening the Savannah Harbor," Col. Tom Tickner, Savannah district commander, said in a statement. "About half of the channel dredging for SHEP is incorporated into this one contract. The 47-foot depth is a forthcoming reality and we are well on our way to putting a critical piece of transportation infrastructure in place that will benefit not only the southeast, but the entire nation."
With a seven-foot tidal fluctuation, Savannah’s channel would have maximum depth at high tide of 54 feet on the inner portion and 56 feet at the entrance.
Similar to the Port Miami deepening project that is on schedule to be completed this year, deepening the Port of Savannah will enable the port to accommodate the next generation post-Panamax vessels that will transport cargo through the expanded Panama Canal once completed in 2016.
The expansion project is slated to lower transportation costs and bring in a net benefit of $174 million each year to U.S. consumers, Corps officials said in a statement.
SHEP earned a $266 million investment from the state of Georgia in March of last year.