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Savannah District Awards Deepening Contract to GLDD

The entrance channel to be deepened in the first contract is shown as number 1 in the lower right of this drawing -- from approximately Fort Pulaski to Station -97+680B. The deepened channel will 18.5 miles long -- 37,680 feet (seven miles) longer than the existing entrance channel. The numbers refer to the order in which the different facets of the project will be completed. Georgia Ports Authority graphic by Joy Dunigan.

The entrance channel to be deepened in the first contract is shown as number 1 in the lower right of this drawing -- from approximately Fort Pulaski to Station -97+680B. The deepened channel will 18.5 miles long -- 37,680 feet (seven miles) longer than the existing entrance channel. The numbers refer to the order in which the different facets of the project will be completed. Georgia Ports Authority graphic by Joy Dunigan.

The Savannah Engineer District awarded the contract “Savannah Harbor Expansion Project New Work Dredging” to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company (GLDD) for $134,486,949.80 on March 4.

The contract includes deepening of the outer harbor, from approximately Fort Pulaski for 18.5 miles into the Atlantic Ocean to 47 feet from an existing 42 foot depth, removing approximately 13.5 million cubic yards of new work and maintenance material.

The contract award number W912HN-15-C-0005.

“This award is a very significant part of deepening the Savannah Harbor,” said Col. Tom Tickner, Savannah District Commander. “About half of the entire channel dredging for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project (SHEP) is incorporated into this one contract.”

Great Lakes plans to use a mix of cutter suction and hopper dredges to perform the work, and expects to begin dredging later this year and finish up by the Summer of 2018.

David Simonelli, Great Lakes’ president of Dredging, said “We are pleased to participate in Savannah Harbor’s historic expansion project and look forward to partnering with the U.S. Army Corps’ Savannah District, the Georgia Ports Authority and the local community on this monumental project. As always, we will be committed to the safety of the public and our crew, as well as protecting the surrounding environment and marine habitat, while we deepen the shipping channel.” 

Dredging the Outer Harbor is the first step to deepening the entire 40-mile shipping channel and harbor from deep ocean to the Georgia Ports Authority terminal in Garden City.

Savannah Harbor is on the Savannah River, which forms the border between Georgia and South Carolina. The existing entrance channel extends from Station 0+000 at the landward end of the navigation jetties offshore to Station -60+000B in the Atlantic Ocean. The deepened channel will extend an additional 37,680 feet offshore to Station -97+680B.

The project includes removal of all material to required project depths of 47 feet plus two feed allowable pay overdepth between 49 and 51 feet. There is also a three-foot allowable non-pay overdepth between 51 and 54 feet, but due to concerns regarding the confining layer of the Floridan Aquifer, the contractor cannot disturb any material below -54 feet mllw. All dredged material will be placed in the existing 5.6-square-mile EPA-approved Ocean Dredged  Material Disposal Site (ODMDS), or in Jones Oyster bed (JOI) upland diked disposal area.

According to the project description in the original solicitation, dredged materials may vary substantially both vertically and horizontally, ranging from primarily sandy materials in the areas farthest offshore to finer-grained materials from Station 0+000 to -30+000B, with stiff Miocene clays between Station 0+000 and -30+000B.

Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) has been encountered during previous dredging operations on the Savannah Harbor Entrance Channel and the Savannah Inner Harbor Channel, and any encounters with UXO in this project will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

The construction phase of the SHEP began in January when divers started recovering material from the CSS Georgia ironclad resting next to the shipping channel near Old Fort Jackson. The start of the outer harbor dredging could begin soon. The outer harbor contract sets overall production goals, but grants Great Lakes Dredge & Dock discretion on scheduling, how and when to mobilize, and kinds of equipment to be used. These variables influence when a contractor actually begins dredging.

The deepening will allow larger container ships to call on Savannah with heavier cargoes and fewer tidal restraints than is now the case. The Corps of Engineers partnered with the State of Georgia for the deepening.

“After 16 years of study, it is gratifying to know that we can now move forward with the deepening of the Savannah River,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “Today’s announcement has been made possible, in part, by the state’s $266 million investment into the port’s expansion. This crucial advancement in our logistics network will aid the prompt delivery of valuable cargo, preserving and creating economic opportunity across Georgia and the Southeast.”

Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Curtis Foltz said “The 21,000 American businesses that rely on the Port of Savannah are projected to save $174 million a year through increased transportation efficiency. This project will ensure continued world-class service, allowing the Port of Savannah to better handle the larger, latest generation container ships already calling the East Coast.”

The deepening brings a net benefit of $174 million each year to U.S. consumers in lower transportation costs and greater efficiencies. Each dollar invested in the SHEP will return $5.50 to the economy.

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