Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunswick Port Seen as Giving Too Much; Dredging Funds Short; Where Is Help from D.C., Advocates Ask

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Brunswick Port Seen as Giving Too Much; Dredging Funds Short; Where Is Help from D.C., Advocates Ask

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | Col. Tom Tickner has been in charge at the Army Corps of Engineers Savannah district only since July 19, but he's been around long enough to deliver some disappointing news to those who use the Port of Brunswick.

Because Brunswick is considered a medium-use port based on tonnage, it is projected to get only 50 percent of the funding necessary to complete channel and harbor projects, Tickner said at a noon meeting at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce.

"We're going to do all we can possibly do,'' Tickner said. "We're not going to get you to the full 38 feet, I can about guarantee you that."

And Congress will likely not allocate any funds to dredge the obstructed Intracoastal Waterway because it is used mostly for recreation except for some barge traffic, he said.

Harbor pilots Edwin and Bruce Fendig made the case that Brunswick gets a woefully unfair return of the money it sends to Washington.

In 2011 alone, shippers paid $12 million to $13 million in harbor maintenance fees and, by year's end, could possibly pay $300 million in U.S. Customs duties, Bruce Fendig said.

"And the federal government will pay only half of what we need to dredge the channel,'' he told Tickner.

After the meeting, the Fendigs said that Brunswick is a "donor port'' because money collected here goes to maintain channels and harbors at bigger, higher-use ports.

Edwin Fendig said when the dredge is finally on station, less than half the work gets done on what should be at least a $12 million project.

The corps asked for $6 million and it gets about $2.9 million. About a third of that goes toward the actual dredging with the rest going to administrative costs including wildlife protection, he said.

With 80,000 to 100,000 cubic yards of material settling into the bar channel each month, maintenance dredging keeps falling farther behind, Edwin Fendig said. …

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