Savannah Harbor Expansion, GA

PROJECT NAME AND STATE:  Savannah Harbor Expansion, GA and SC 

AUTHORIZATION:  WRDA 1999, Sec. 102 (P.L. 106-53); WRRDA 2014, Sec. 7002 (P.L. 113-121); WRDA 2018, Sec. 1401 (P.L. 115-270)   




Estimated Federal Cost



Estimated Non-Federal Cost



Total Estimated Cost




Allocation thru FY 2019



Allocation for FY 2020



Allocation for FY 2021   $93,600,000

President's Budget for FY 2022



FY 2022 IIJA P.L. 117-58 Funding   $48,000,000
President's Budget for FY 2023   $0
President's Budget for FY 2024   $0
Programmed Balance to Complete After FY 2024   $115,431,000


LOCATION AND DESCRIPTION:  Deep Draft Navigation.  The currently authorized Savannah Harbor deep-draft navigation project is a 42-foot deep, 32.7 mile long shipping channel on the Savannah River, which forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina.  The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project will deepen the existing -42 feet mean lower low water (MLLW) project to -47 feet MLLW.  The project was conditionally authorized in WRDA 99 stipulating that no construction can occur until approved by the Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of the Interior and the Administrator of EPA.  Those approvals were obtained July 11, 2012. A Construction Project Partnership Agreement was executed 8 October 2014 which allowed the non-Federal Sponsors (the Georgia Ports Authority and the Georgia Department of Transportation) to provide their funds, up to the current estimate of the non-Federal Sponsors' share, for the initiation of construction.

ACTIVITIES FOR FY2023FY2023 funds are being used to prepare plans and specifications for the Boat Ramp at Hutchinson Island and the second DMCA Capacity Restoration contract at DMCA 14A; and continue environmental monitoring.

ACTIVITIES FOR FY2024:  FY2024 funds will be used to continue environmental monitoring and work on the Fish Passage at New Savannah Bluff Lock & Dam.

ISSUES AND OTHER INFORMATION:  The Total Project First Cost is estimated at $1.019B at FY2019 levels with construction to be cost shared at a rate of 75% Federal and 25% non-Federal before the 10% General Navigation Feature payback, providing annual net benefits of $291M, a benefit-to-cost ratio of 7.7 to 1, and a $6M increase in annual Savannah Harbor Operations and Maintenance costs.  SHEP was funded to capability in FY2018, FY2019 and FY2020. The sponsor funding and credit to date totals $305M with $284M in cash contributions being provided thru June 2021. The sponsors have provided nearly all of their estimated share of the Total Project Cost Escalated to the Mid-Point of Construction. 

The passage of WRDA 2016 required the Corps to complete a Post-Authorization Analysis Report for the Fish Passage at New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam feature of the project.  The legislation de-authorized the lock and dam and required the Corps to develop an in-river fish passage. The final report was completed in October 2019 and the selected plan determined to remove the NSBLD and build a fixed-crest weir in the river to provide for fish passage and maintain the functionality of the pool. The state of South Carolina filed a complaint in Federal court asking for non-monetary relief in six causes of action aimed at the SHEP with regard to the fish passage. The City of Augusta, Georgia, and Georgia Ports Authority joined the lawsuit. The local opposition to the approved plan is predicated on an interpretation that WRDA 2016 requires the Corps to maintain a specific, higher pool elevation than the plan that was developed according to the Corps implementation guidance for the legislation. In November 2020, the South Carolina District Court judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and permanently enjoined any further work on the selected plan. The DOJ filed an appeal in July 2022 and the appeal ruling in favor of the Corps was issued on 19 April 2023. The case was remanded back to the district court for further action.

As the size and frequency of container vessels increases, so do transportation inefficiencies, vessels waiting on the tide and light loading, unless the Savannah Harbor channel is deepened. The Port of Savannah is the fourth busiest container terminal in the nation, the second largest container port on the East Coast, the second busiest harbor for American export tonnage, the largest single, contiguous container port in North America, and the fastest growing container port in the nation over the last 10 years. 

ADMINISTRATION POSITION:  This project is consistent with Administration policy.


Award Entrance Channel Dredging Contract           04 March 2015 (A) 
Award Dissolved Oxygen Injection System Contract           31 July 2015 (A) 
Award Raw Water Storage Impoundment Contract           11 December 2015 (A)
Award 14A Dike Raising Contract             08 April 2016 (A)
Award Sediment Basin Area Work (Package #1)           15 September 2016 (A)
Award McCoy's Cut Area Work           6 July 2018 (A)
Award Inner Harbor Dredging Contract #1           19 August 2019 (A)
Award Inner Harbor Dredging Contract #2           7 November 2019 (A)
Award Marsh Restoration at DMCA IS           12 August 2021 (A)
Award DMCA JOI Dike Raising           16 August 2022 (A)
Award Boast Ramp on Hutchinson Island           02 February 2024


ACTION OFFICER:  Spencer W. Davis, PMP                           24 Apr 2023