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November 5--  After years of study, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved a plan to deepen the port of Savannah.

"The Corps of Engineers issued their final record of decision approving the project and now we can move forward with getting funding and moving forward with construction of the harbor deepening," reports Leo Beckmann of the Georgia Ports Authority.

The project will deepen the harbor by five feet and allow it to accomodate the much larger ships which will soon be coming to the U.S. through a bigger Panama Canal.

The Savannah port exports more U.S. products than any other U.S. port except Los Angeles.

"We're the fourth largest port in the nation, the fastest growing as well, and we're number two in terms of exports so all those Georgia products are coming out through our facility and creating opportunities for all those agri-businesses throughout the state," Beckmann says.

"Georgia is the largest poultry producing state in the nation and we export more poultry than any other port in the nation.  We export a lot of kaolin clay, a lot of pine products, peanuts, cotton, pecans and we also export Vidalia Onions and we also import onions to Vidalia as well which are grown in South America," he points out.

According to Beckmann, the habor deepening will cost about $650 million and take at least four years to complete once it gets started.