Wednesday, February 21, 2018

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Battle for Port Infrastructure Funding Intensifies Between GA, SC

Trade & Development - Ports

NEWARK, NJ – Competition for federal infrastructure funding is heating up among East Coast ports anxious to attract increased container shipping volumes predicted to enter supply chains in 2014, via an expanded Panama Canal. Resentment over the growth of Georgia's ports is fueling opposition from neighboring South Carolina, which could derail expansion efforts for both states and push funding and traffic to other ports, reports The Journal of Commerce.

Eleven years of work by the Georgia Ports Authority on its Savannah Harbor Expansion Project could be in vain if South Carolina exercises its right to veto work on the Savannah River – the border between the two states. South Carolina politicians are promising to mount efforts to block the project on environmental grounds. "If Georgia and the corps (of engineers) don't reverse course, you're going to see this thing litigated in federal court for many years to come," said State Sen. Larry Grooms, chairman of the Transportation Committee and the South Carolina State Ports Authority's Review and Oversight Commission. Such delays could be disastrous for the entire region, pushing traffic as well as tens of millions of dollars in funding somewhere else in the Southeast.

While South Carolina's container trade grew 12.5 percent during the first 11 months of 2010, container volume at Georgia ports expanded 14.7 percent over 2009 with nearly 2 million TEUs, according to data from PIERS, a sister company of The Journal of Commerce. But, the Savannah River will need a deeper channel to maintain its position as the nation's fourth-largest container port – second-largest on the East Coast – as Panama Canal traffic patterns revolutionize the shipping game.

"Without approval for (the deepening project), our ports are out of play," GPA's Executive Director Curtis Foltz said recently.

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