In an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial, I recommend deepening the Port of Savannah through a public-private partnership:
The Port of Savannah needs hundreds of millions of dollars to deepen its harbor to take advantage of the Panama Canal expansion. But with the federal debt and deficit soaring, there is little taxpayer money available for harbor deepening at American ports. That expansion is expected to cost $650 million. The state is contributing $252 million and hopes the federal government will pay the rest. Georgia’s leaders need to be realistic about the funding shortfalls.
Across the world, public-private partnerhips are used to deliver needed infrastructure including ports, raise new sources of capital for modernization, shift risks away from taxpayers and onto investors, and encourage innovation.
Maryland is showing how successful these partnerships can be. In 2010 the staet signed a 50-year lease with Ports America to operate the Port of Baltimore. This type of lease could also work for the Port of Savannah. Additionally, leases often include other benefit such as improvements to roads and rail systems near the ports. In Maryland, the port operator provided the state $120 million to pay for infrastructure improvements near the port.
The full piece is available here.