VP Joe Biden speaks on harbor deepening project - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

VP Joe Biden on harbor project: 'It's an economic issue'

VP Joe Biden, U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx and U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson VP Joe Biden, U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx and U.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson

Vice President Joe Biden spoke Monday afternoon in Savannah about the importance of deepening the Port of Savannah. 

Biden also visited Charleston's port. His visit comes as the ports move to expand to accommodate larger ships.  

"This is not a partisan issue. This is an economic issue," Biden said about the port deepening project. 

He said that in the next 12 years, the volume of trade in the world is going to double. Two-thirds of all tonnage that comes to the Panama Canal comes from or to the U.S. 

"This port alone supports 350,000 jobs - good jobs, decent jobs, not minimum wage jobs," he said of Savannah's port. "You export more than any other port. Period." 

The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) would expand the port to 47 feet, which would cost an estimated $652 million and would bring in $174 million annually to the U.S. economy, according to a study from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The state of Georgia would pay 30 percent of the cost of the project and the federal government would pay 70 percent.

SHEP comes at a time that Georgia Ports Authority is experiencing record growth.

Executive Director Curtis Foltz said Thursday at the annual State of the Port Address that during the 2013 fiscal year, the ports saw record cargo volumes, an influx of new business and more than 1 million square feet of distribution center space leased or developed. The ports handled a record 27 million tons of cargo.

That's an increase of 2.4 percent. They also hit records for handling auto and machinery shipments, bulk cargo and intermodal containers.

Foltz said Congress needs to take action on SHEP and stressed that federal funding needs to be forthcoming.

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Port of Savannah Harbor Expansion Project


See the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers final report on the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project. More>>

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