Nearly two decades in the making, the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, or SHEP, continues to gain momentum with more contracts awarded and new ground broken.

In addition to progress made on the Raw Water Storage Impoundment and Dissolved Oxygen Injection System, work advanced this month on the dike raising and tide gate removal mitigation feature.

Herve Cody Construction has completed 29 percent of raising the back dike for Dredged Material Containment Area 14A. The dike is being raised five feet to prepare for inner harbor dredging and is scheduled to be complete in May 2017.

DCMAs 14A and 14B, which lie on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River near Elba Island, comprise the potential future home of the Jasper Ocean Terminal.

Two weeks ago, De Moya / Continental Joint Venture was awarded a contract to remove the tide gate along the Back River just north of Hutchinson Island. Workers will remove the tide gate and its related abutments and embankments to return the river to its original width.

According to Spencer Davis, senior project manager for SHEP, the tide gate was originally installed in the 1970s to reduce shoaling in the Savannah River's main channel. The gates would open and let the incoming tide come upstream but close when the tide ebbed, forcing water to return via the main navigation channel, scouring it out. The area just downstream of the tide gate (sediment basin) was deepened to allow more sediment to settle out of the water during the slack tides.

The actual gates, but not the support structure, were removed in the 1990s.

Other updates

CSS Georgia: Archaeologists at Texas A&M University's Conservation Research Laboratory continue to process and conserve artifacts from the CSS Georgia. Divers are expected to return in the summer of 2017 to recover the remaining sections of the ironclad's casemate.

Entrance channel dredging: After one year, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company has completed 24 percent of entrance channel dredging. The entrance channel extends from Fort Pulaski 13 miles into the Atlantic Ocean. Once dredging is complete, the entrance channel will extend an additional seven miles, for a total of 20 miles, into the Atlantic Ocean.