Martin ‘not for’ deepening harbor

19 10 2008


Summer Teal Simpson | The Creative Coast

U.S. Senate candidate Jim Martin dove into hot political waters Monday when he opposed deepening the Savannah Harbor channel.

“I’m not for it at this point,” the Democrat said in response to a question at a debate sponsored by television station WALB in Albany. ”… I’m not prepared to commit myself to being in favor of that.”

At least for the day, his response put Martin, locked in a tight race with Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss, on the defensive.

Martin later said he didn’t understand the issue when he was asked about it at the debate, but he now favors the project. “My answer wasn’t the best,” he said. “It was inaccurate.”

That didn’t dissuade Chambliss – who staunchly defended the proposal – and others from sharply rebuking Martin.

Deepening the harbor from 42 feet to 48 feet widely is viewed as the key to Chatham County’s economic future – and as important to Georgia’s.

Supporters say it would let the port – fourth largest in the country – float a new generation of super-sized ships and keep its competitive edge.

The fate of the project hinges on approval by the Army Corps of Engineers and, after that, congressional action.

In the debate, Chambliss called the port “a multibillion- dollar boon to our state.”

“It employs hundreds of thousands of people – not just in Savannah but all over the state,” he added. “I do support deepening it … because we’ve gotta take the ships coming in. … We’ve got to be ready.”

Georgia Ports Authority Chairman Steve Green said he was “shocked, to say the least” and “dumbfounded” by Martin’s remarks.

“I’m disappointed that someone seeking to represent us in the Senate is willing to jeopardize the security of 300,000 jobs,” Green said.

”… Mr. Martin is apparently unaware of the extreme measures being taken to make sure that it can be implemented without environmental harm.”

Martin acknowledged as much later in the day, adding that “we need to move forward to get to be able to handle the … ships.”

Read on here.




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