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Georgia Sea Grant planning for port expansion

Thursday, August 7, 2014 - 10:46am

UGA faculty members and Georgia Sea Grant are doing important work along the Georgia coast, helping communities plan for a major expansion of the Savannah Harbor:

"Most of the regional attention to the Savannah Harbor deepening has focused on the ecological effects to the river and adjacent wetland ecosystems," said Charles Hopkinson, Georgia Sea Grant director. "We want to shift the focus to local communities so that they are prepared to handle the secondary impacts that are likely to accompany the port expansion, such as new transportation and parking needs or the school and housing needs of an expanded workforce."

As the country's fourth busiest container port and creator of $18.5 billion annually in personal income from port-related jobs, much is riding on the success of Savannah's port expansion. Plans include dredging 32 miles of the harbor's navigation channel to allow the port to accommodate supersized freighters from Asia and the Pacific coast of Latin America that will come to the east coast through the newly expanded Panama Canal, due to be completed in 2015.

"The changes will affect the entire coastal corridor between Georgia's two main maritime ports, and we want to help each community benefit from the development," said Stephen Ramos, assistant professor in UGA's College of Environment and Design, who received funding from Georgia Sea Grant to conduct research and consult with the coastal communities.

An enormous project that will impact the Georgia coast in a multitude of ways, the harbor expansion is also great opportunity for broad engagement with the public. UGA expertise, on everything from economics and social policy to ecology and physical infrastructure, has an important role to play that help make this project an enduring success.

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