Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, from a March 11 speech at the Commerce Club: “The most important conversation about the port is the WRDA (Water Resources Development Act) bill. If the WRDA bill doesn’t pass, everybody needs to panic. And what the WRDA bill means is that the port will be funded in 2014 dollars instead of 1996 dollars. So if the president had put in a big appropriation prior to WRDA funding, we would have still had a $200 million gap.
“The port of Savannah is one of the four most successful ports in United States of America. We need to maintain our bipartisan focus because this stuff is hard, you all. When’s the last time anybody gave you $400 million?
“The point I’m making is this, you all, we’re gonna get it done. Doing hard things is hard. We will finish this and it’s going to take us to where we’re going, which is being one of the leading cities of the world.”
From a March 6 letter from Georgia’s congressional delegation to the director of the federal Office of Management and Budget: We were very disappointed by your agency’s lack of support for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP).
Our delegation is united in the belief that this project should have been funded under the explicit guidance provided to the executive branch through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014. In this legislation, we included construction funds for SHEP (which we have done since fiscal year 2009) … and language explicitly stating that SHEP was to be considered in construction for the budget process. This legislation was signed by the President on Jan. 17 of this year and had a clear directive: fund SHEP.
With a cost-benefit ratio of 5.5-to-1 and an annual net benefit to the nation of $174 million, SHEP has wide support. The President and Vice President have joined the entire Georgia delegation, the Governor of Georgia, Mayor of Atlanta, and countless local leaders in their strong support of SHEP. The President included the Port of Savannah in his 2012 “We Can’t Wait” initiative, and just this fall, the Vice President visited Savannah, stating that we will complete SHEP “come hell or high water.”
This project has been a priority for us, and the Governor and the Georgia General Assembly have allocated $256 million in state funds to be used for the state share of construction for SHEP. As the livelihood of this project has little alternative at this point, it is now imperative that the finalization of the Project Partnership Agreement with Georgia be completed as soon as possible and the Corps be allowed to utilize the state’s $266 million to initiate construction contracts this year.