- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) - Gov. Nathan Deal says he wants to see dredging get underway this year on the long-sought deepening of the Port of Savannah’s shipping channel.

Deal told state lawmakers in his State of the State address Wednesday that “it’s time to start moving dirt” on the $652 million project, which Congress first authorized in 1999.

Deal included $35 million in his proposed budget for the harbor expansion. If approved, Georgia will have appropriated a total of $266 million for the project.

The federal government is supposed to cover 60 percent of the harbor deepening, which would allow supersized cargo ships to reach Savannah’s seaport. But money from Washington has been tight.

Deal has said he’s willing to start dredging using all state money, but Congress must first eliminate a bureaucratic hurdle.

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