Governor Deal, State Transportation Officials Launch Construction of Port's Crucial "Last Mile" Jimmy Deloach Connector Project
SAVANNAH – Governor Nathan Deal led a host of state and local leaders today in officially beginning construction of a key transportation infrastructure component for the Port of Savannah – the much-anticipated "last mile" Jimmy Deloach (Parkway) Connector project.
"Today, we take another step toward making sure companies can get their goods in and out of the Port as safely and as quickly as possible, thereby saving time, money and lives," Governor Deal commented. "When we finish deepening the Port, I believe even more trucks will use this route, and that's why this project is so important to us. Companies using these new (larger, post-Panamax) ships will need cost-effective and time-efficient methods of transporting goods to and from the Port. Our state has worked hard to make sure they have exactly that. We have improved our rail and road system so businesses will have the transportation network they need to get their goods where they need to go."
The $72.8 million, 3.1-mile Deloach Connector will extend the current Deloach Parkway to State Route 307/Bourne Avenue near the Port's main gate. Once completed, the estimated 8,000 trucks that visit the Port each day will have a limited-access, four-lane route directly to and from Interstate Highway 95, and as a result, reduce traffic on busy State Route 21/Augusta Highway.
"The Deloach Connector shows the unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration between Governor Deal, the Transportation and Ports Authority boards and Georgia DOT," commented Transportation Board Chairman Jay Shaw. "We all understand that so much of Georgia's growth and prosperity are inextricably linked to the success of our ports and to our ability to complement them with the best surface logistics network in the nation. That is exactly what we are committed to do."
"This project will reduce the amount of time, costs and emissions required to move products to and from the international marketplace," observed Robert Jepson, the Port Authority's Chairman. "When complete, the Jimmy Deloach Parkway will provide direct access from I-95 to the Port of Savannah and help to form a cargo beltway serving the fourth busiest and single largest container terminal in North America. Because of the keen foresight and strong commitment from the State of Georgia, the Georgia Department of Transportation and the Georgia Ports Authority, we can rest assured that the Port of Savannah will continue to provide the best services for its customers and economic opportunities throughout the Southeast."
The Deloach Connector will be built east of and roughly parallel to S.R. 21. It will include the construction of six new bridges, new interchanges at Grange Road and Pierce Avenue and some 25 acres of wetlands mitigation. Work is scheduled to be completed in May, 2016. Archer Western Contractors, LTD, of Atlanta, is the prime contractor.
A direct east-west link for the Port to the interstate was first envisioned in the early 1980s and its need was later reinforced in both GA DOT's statewide truck lanes study and freight and logistics plan. This project represents the final segment of that link. The current Jimmy Deloach Parkway opened to traffic in 2002. The Parkway and Connector are named in honor of former Chatham County Commissioner Jimmy Deloach, one of the road's initial advocates.
Underscoring the collaborative nature of their relationship, the Transportation Board held its monthly meeting in Savannah in conjunction with today's groundbreaking. Hosted by First Congressional District Member Ann R. Purcell, the transportation leaders met with their Port Authority counterparts, were briefed on the Harbor Expansion Project as well as other issues and toured Port facilities. Board members also met with officials of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. and toured its Savannah operations, as well as the Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport.