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Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed still hopeful federal funds are coming for deepening of Savannah port

By Maria Saporta

Don’t panic. That was the basic message that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed shared about the lack of funding for the deepening of the Savannah port in the President Barack Obama’s budget that was released last week.

Reed spoke to local business and civic leaders Tuesday during a luncheon speech at the Commerce Club — where he said the news of President’s budget failure to include the federal share of had been misrepresented.

By tapping his Democratic connections within the Obama administration in Washington, D.C., Reed has been one of Georgia’s leading advocates for the deepening of the Savannah port. He has been working closely with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal on those efforts — highlighting their cooperative bi-partisan relationship.

“I was out of town when they were talking about the port,” Reed said. “Let’s not get pulled into this crap. We need to maintain this bi-partisan focus. This stuff is hard. When is the last time someone gave you $400 million?”

According to Reed, first the U.S. Congress must reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act of 1996 to update the project estimates of the Savannah port deepening project to $652 million. Currently the Water Resources Development Act is in a Congressional conference committee.

Had the president put the Savannah port in his budget before the reauthorization of the Act, the project would have been subject to a spending cap.

“We would have been $200 million short,” Reed told the Commerce Club audience.

The state of Georgia already has committed $250 million in the deepening of the Savannah port, and it has been hoping to get the federal funding to get the project fully underway so it could be prepared to handle the mega-cargo ships that will be able to navigate the Panama Canal once that project is complete.

When Obama did not include funding for the port in his budget, numerous elected leaders — including Gov. Deal and the state’s Republican congressional delegation — criticized the president for playing politics and for not being a loyal supporter of the project.

Reed spokesman Carlos Campos provided further detail of the mayor’s position.

“He believes funding for the port will be in the Water Resources Development Act,” Campos said. “He believes that is a spending bill, and it is now in a conference committee.”

Maria Saporta

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.



  1. Guest March 12, 2014 10:09 am

    “When is the last time someone gave you $400 million?”  
    Hey Kasim, why don’t you pose that question to Arthur Blank?Report

  2. nancydjasper March 12, 2014 4:55 pm

    Since the all out drive to take GA into the Democratic fold-have you promised Obama Nunn & Carter can carry the state?  Give him that and I bet the money will pour into Savannah!!!!  After all, we have had all the BIG DEM guns bringing money in to carry off COMMON CORE adoption and to kill our efforts to STOP OBAMACARE IN GA.  Some of the Senators seem to be ready to take the money so now all that is left is the harbor.  Oh what joy the ART OF SLEAZY POLITICS brings to the Democratic Party.  Attack now, you rabid dogs!  OOPS! was that PC?Report

  3. Burroughston Broch March 12, 2014 9:10 pm

    Hizzoner spake, “Let’s not get pulled into this crap.”
    Translated into plain English, it means, “I don’t see any political benefit for me here, so I’m bailing out.”Report


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