Dredging for Savannah Harbor could start as soon as December - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Dredging for Savannah Harbor could start as soon as December


We are one step closer to dredging the Savannah Harbor. The Senate passed the Water Resources Development Act and now the president has to sign the bill into law.

But there are still a few more hoops to jump through before crews can start digging. The Office of Management and Budget has to sign off on it and then the state of Georgia has to agree to spend their share of the money first.

Officials with the Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah believe this should not be an issue.

Gov. Nathan Deal announce back in March that he is ready to move forward with project despite President Obama not allocating money in the federal budget.

The total cost of the project has now increased by nearly $50 million, bringing the total to $706 million. Georgia will pay 30 percent and the federal government will pay the rest.

Once everything is signed off on, they will then start the mitigation process by making sure the environment stays healthy during the dredging.

"We are creating oxygen injection systems that will help boost the oxygen level in the water," said Russell Wicke, Spokesperson for the Army Corps of Engineers. "We are also bringing up the CSS Georgia, the iron clad that was scuttled back in the 1860's during the civil war."

Crews brought up part of that ship back in November but the Corps says they are working with the Navy to try to bring up the rest of it and then preserve it.

Corps officials say they expect to start dredging in December if there are no other hiccups. There are only a handful of qualified companies nationwide who can handle this type of job.

The project entails digging the harbor five feet deeper and extending it eight miles longer. It's a huge undertaking that is expected to take at least five years.

There are only about four companies in the U.S. capable of taking on the job, according to the Army Corps of Engineers.

The potential companies include:

1.Dutra Group
2. GLD&D
3. Manson Construction Co.
4. Weeks Marine

Corp officials say they could start taking bids for the dredging as early as July.

Even though none of the companies are local, officials say many of these types of companies will hire local folks.

"We plan to begin at the entrance channel which is out in the Atlantic Ocean," said Wicke. "So the Savannah Harbor channel will extend 18 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean once we get approval to do that."

WTOC reached out to all the companies to see if they plan to bid on the project but we are still waiting to hear back.

The Army Corp of Engineers say they are the ones who will make the final decision. Officials say they are looking for the best company to do the job for a reasonable price.

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