AJC investigative series to look at Savannah Harbor dredging claims

The AJC announced today that the paper will publish a three-part series next week looking at claims regarding the long-proposed, much-studied, and much-debated Savannah Harbor Expansion Project.

I have written a lot on the subject, and was one of the first journalists in the state to point out that the Corps of Engineers’ economic projections do not say that dredging would mean more cargo coming through the Savannah ports. The economic analysis is very clear that the benefits would come from increased efficiencies, not increased cargo.

From the AJC’s teaser today:

Georgia and virtually every state on the East and Gulf coasts are investing billions of dollars deepening ports and upgrading dockside facilities in anticipation of a boom in global trade. State and federal taxpayers are being asked to put up $650 million alone to deepen the river leading to the port of Savannah.

Gov. Nathan Deal and other state officials say the project is critical, bringing jobs and revenue all the way to Atlanta.

But there is little evidence that the deepening – one of Georgia’s most expensive transportation ventures ever – will do either. In fact, the federal government predicts the project will not result in more cargo through the port of Savannah or in any permanent jobs statewide.

Here’s the lineup of pieces the AJC has planned for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday:

Sunday: Global Uncertainty. Eastern ports are spending billions of dollars to attract bigger ships and paydays, but there’s little evidence the investments will lure more cargo, industry or jobs.

Monday: Georgia’s challenge. Savannah is the nation’s No. 4 container port, but its success is threatened by a shallow river, distant ocean access and deep-pocketed rivals.

Tuesday: Battle among states. Without a national ports strategy, virtually every Eastern port is engaged in the maritime equivalent of an expensive arms race.

I’ll obviously be following the series closely.