Despite significant infrastructure spending in Obama’s proposed budget, only a pittance for Savannah port expansion

From the AJC’s Savannah port expansion gets small boost in president’s budget:

President Barack Obama’s budget request, submitted to Congress on Wednesday, includes $1.28 million for pre-construction engineering and design work for the harbor expansion project, barely keeping the federal spigot flowing. It is less than half the amount proposed last year and a drop in the bucket of the project’s $652 million price tag.


Advocates of the Savannah Harbor Expansion project — the ambitious plan to deepen the Savannah River channel to 47′ to accommodate some of the larger ships expected to use the widened Panama Canal — might be glad just to see the line item in the budget (last year the project received just $2.8 million), and they might be heartened by the president’s strong rhetoric about investing in infrastructure.

But this apparently means that Georgia’s congressional delegation will be in the position of pushing hard to find over $400 million — the proposed share of the project to be paid for by the feds.

There are a number of complications, however, a few of which were detailed in an article in the Savannah Morning News last week.

In addition to a lawsuit from environmental groups, there is also the simmering tension between folks representing Georgia and South Carolina port interests. While Georgia officials have adopted an official stance that favors investment in all East Coast ports, there has been strong resistance in S.C. from those who want to protect the Charleston port, those who think the proposed project will be of insufficient depth and will preclude the possibility of constructing the long-proposed Jasper Port on the Savannah River, and those who have serious environmental questions.

Nearly $300 million will be spent on environmental mitigation if/when the project is funded.

It will be interesting to hear the reaction from Georgia’s congressional delegation, especially Senator Johnny Isakson who helped organize a dinner with President Obama tonight.


  1. Mrs. Adam Kornstein says:

    Maybe the same folks that lobbied so hard for public money for a stadium, should be put on the task for the port.

    Oh that’s right…

    • sockpuppet says:

      So what are you saying? That Atlanta tax revenue collected in Atlanta and designated to be used on infrastructure projects to help maintain and grow the tourism economy in Atlanta should have been used to fund the Savannah port expansion?

      If that is your point, then justify it politically, economically and ethically. If it wasn’t your point, then what was? Feel free to oppose the stadium project as much as you like, but the two have nothing to do with each other.

      And for the record, backers of the new stadium project (Nathan Deal and Kasim Reed) have lobbied heavily for this project, both on a federal and a state level. Honestly, if this state weren’t run by anti-tax, anti-spending conservatives, the port project – and a bunch of other worthy infrastructure and transportation projects – would have been well on their way or done a long time ago. If this bunch of leaders were running Georgia back in the day, Hartsfield would have never been built, and we wouldn’t have quality major economic engine universities like Georgia Tech, UGA and Georgia State either.

      • Baker says:

        I basically agree with you on the post here that Atlanta’s HMT being used for the port is a non-starter sock but if you’re equating the new stadium to the Savannah port, Hartsfield, Ga Tech, UGA, GSU, and anything else you be crazy.

  2. gcp says:

    The federal government does not have a “drop in the bucket” to spend. If Ga. wants to deepen the port, let Ga. taxpayers fund it.

    • Harry says:

      Yes, the project is very important for the state and should be funded by the state, not the federal budget.

  3. ghall says:

    I don’t think having Paul Broun running for Senate is going to help Georgia’s cause in getting money for this project. Lets have a Congressman from our state call him a Nazi or another Congressman refer to his party as Demons and then ask him for a half a billion dollars. Or have a part time birther as a Governor. Would you give it to them or would you give money to a state where the next Statewide elected offical might actually be a friend (Cory Booker) and has a fairly large port. I wonder if the GA Ports and/or the Chamber has actually tried to tell these folks to calm down and let’s try and get this project funded.

    • Harry says:

      We shouldn’t need to depend on the federal budget for anything other than constitutional mandates, i.e. national defense.

    • sockpuppet says:

      We don’t need Obama or the feds. We already have – or can easily raise – the funds to do it ourselves. The problem is the politicians who run state government.

  4. Baker says:

    If the Obama administration hadn’t basically lit $1,000,000,000,000 on fire doing the non-stimulus “Stimulus”, maybe this thing would already be built. Less than 5% of that so-called stimulus was spent on infrastructure. 10 years from now, I don’t even know anywhere where you might be able to tell it happened. Say what you will about the WPA or the CCC, we still use a lot of their projects and they provided long-term worth to the country.

    • xdog says:

      If President Pinhead and his handlers hadn’t broken the economy, there would have been no need for the huge stimulus, which not only saved everyone’s ass but is in fact working. I guess you’ve forgotten the great meltdown of 2008-09 and that the bailing started with gopers in the WH, once they got scared enough to listen to the adults in the room.

      • Baker says:

        Where to begin?

        I haven’t forgotten that the bailing out of criminally-run banks started with the GOP. It’s all bull. The GOP did begin the bailing and then the Dems came in and did what? Kept bailing. Then they did Dodd-Frank, which not only didn’t address TBTF but made TBTF that much more likely.

        That’s not my point though: We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do amazing infrastructure projects with that stimulus. You know, big projects that require steel and concrete and other products, that then the construction workers spend their money on lunch, and blah-blah multiplier effect blah blah. Fine. I’m okay with that. One of the few things that government must do is transportation/ infrastructure.

        They could’ve built an amazing transit system across the whole country, they could’ve funded the deepening of every port, they could’ve buried every electric line in the country. Instead, what was it? It was a bailout to unions and to states that weren’t prepared for the downturn. And it’s not working. It’s vanished like a fart in the wind (Shawshank anyone?) The real unemployment number is around 15%, we just have the lowest % of people in the workforce since 1980.

          • Baker says:

            What about the unemployment numbers? I want to get you started…

            I know Bush and Co. put in place some of the new way we count it if that’s what you’re referring to. It’s all bs.

            • griftdrift says:

              It’s not about “changing the numbers”. It’s been calculated practically the way for decades.

              But let’s talk about the employment number that everyone obsesses over. Add 65 to 1948 then tell me if you think it’s reasonable to expect the employment participation rate to stay the same.

              • Baker says:

                Charlie and others will know better than I but they have changed the way they calculate about people dropping out from being counted because they’re not currently looking for work. Of course the boomers are retiring but it can’t all be explained by that.

                • griftdrift says:

                  Not all but a lot. Of course the economy was a factor. But people didn’t just disappear. Older people retired earlier. Demographics caught up to us. Remember all the hand wringing over the past decades about when the boomers retired? Guess what. It’s hear. And younger generation stayed in school longer.

                  Part of its natural. Part of its not. But very little of it has to do with specific policies by the previous or the current.

                  It’s a red herring.

          • Baker says:

            “The states had to be saved”

            Okay. But was there any recourse for getting any of that back or insuring they don’t require saving again? STBTF if just as annoying.

            • griftdrift says:

              Well, just one example. They are currently trying to figure out a way to get the UI benefits back (or forgiven) that Georgia borrowed for the Feds.

              And there’s not way to guarantee it won’t happen again. Sorry that’s a dream. Because by very definition that is what being the lender of last resort means.

        • xdog says:

          I hope I never see another bailout. I’d agree that its structure was less than ideal and that many unworthies who shouldn’t have seen a dime got money. But frankly, short of standing by and letting the country go down the toilet, I don’t see that the pols had much choice either in the decision to bail or the selection of targets for the bailing.

          Just to take one instance. You complain about states that were unprepared for a downturn. First, stop using euphemisms. It wasn’t a downturn, it was a financial catastrophe brought on by unpunished greed and foolish policies. Second, how would you suggest a state, let’s call it Michigan, plan for the bankruptcy of its biggest employer, say GM? It’s not just UAW jobs that were saved, but the jobs of thousands at GM’s suppliers and dealers across the country, plus thousands more involved in transporting GM product and GM supplies. The bailout saved families, small businesses and entire communities.

          • Baker says:

            I didn’t mean to use downplay the disaster here xdog.

            “It wasn’t a downturn, it was a financial catastrophe brought on by unpunished greed and foolish policies”

            I agree fully.

            GM should’ve gone bankrupt. That was a whole separate bailout.

            My original point was only about the stimulus, but since we’re here now…

            I don’t know enough about this to make clear arguments off the top of my head. I do know this though:

            • xdog says:

              Baker, I suspect we agree about more than the root causes for the catastrophe. It’s hard to do nuance on a message board. Hell, it’s hard to proclaim here.

              I’m sure you know that GM did go bankrupt, along with Chrysler. It was the bailout that kept the lights on and the lines moving while they sorted things out.

              I looked at the link you posted. It’s several months old and claims a $25B loss for us taxpayers, based on a 500M shares held by the Treasury and a stock price of $22.20. GM closed today right at $30, about one-third higher, consequently reducing the loss we’re looking at. No matter. I’m sorry to see any loss but I agree with the administration that $25B is much less than the cost of letting GM close its doors.

  5. saltycracker says:

    It’s priorities – Congress just feels good with redistribution to foreign nations – and they get to take junkets…..

    WASHINGTON, Apr 11 2013 (IPS) – U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday asked Congress to approve some 52 billion dollars in foreign aid and international spending in 2014, slightly higher than the current year’s budget …….

    • saltycracker says:

      P.S. That’s just one example….pick your favorite in the increasing deficit/misplaced budgeting….

  6. Ellynn says:

    Savannah is the largest east coast port for the moving of non-navy military goods. Any equipment being used by the Army is sent out of the port. This includes goods out of Ft Bragg, Ft Knox and the local instate bases. and Their is a national park and two nationally owned pieces of property along the channel. By federal Law the channel is controled and regulated by the federal govenment and patroled by the USCG and Homeland Security.

    Prior to 2009, all funding for corp studies and other items were added by earmarks to whatever budget was being reviewed. They were added by at least 4 seperate house members, and all senators serving the state since 2002. It has taken a decade to get all the federal and state regulating bodies in line. South Carolina didn’t plan so well for Charleston and now they want to slow all port funding down.

    The project has been pushed by Deal’s office, at least 5 current members of congress – 4 R, 1 D, Mayor Reed, Walmart (it’s their largest East coast warehouse center), Target, Ikea, 4 major car importors, Kerr-MaGee, Georgia-Pacific and countless manufacturing lobbies.

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