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Savannah Harbor Expansion Project

By the Numbers

  • The Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is a $706 million joint state and federal project that will dredge 32 miles of the Savannah River to accommodate super sized freighters traveling from the newly expanded Panama Canal.
  • Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that every $1 spent on the expansion will return $5.50 in national economic benefits, the local economic impact has not been determined. 

Georgia Sea Grant is funding a $194, 277 research project that will help coastal communities prepare for and benefit from development of the port.

The port of Savannah is the country's fourth busiest container port and the second busiest on the U.S. eastern seaboard. 

Georgia ports contribute $32 billion to the Georgia state economy and serve as the export center for goods being transported throughout the Southeast.


Dr. Stephen Ramos, assistant professor in the University of Georgia's College of Environment and Design, is conducting research into the effects of the port expansion and collaborating with planning directors, GIS technicians, and other local government staff from participating counties and cities in partnership with Georgia's Coastal Regional Commission (CRC).

The ability of surrounding communities to keep pace with the expansion will impact the port's long-term success. In order to attract these new freighters, which are traveling to the east coast from Asia and the Pacific coast of Latin America, nearby areas will need to successfully accommodate the changing needs that will come with larger, more densely packed ships and larger volumes of goods moving through coastal areas to inland markets.

With many ports on the eastern seaboard eyeing expansion, local planning will play a key role in the port's competitive advantage.

Georgia Sea Grant is uniquely positioned to assist coastal communities in adapting to changes accompanying the port expansion, including transportation infrastructure needs and changes in land use, and housing demands.


Diagram of port expansion

Diagram of port expansion