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panama canal expansion

Stephen B. Morton / Associated Press

The Georgia Ports Authority is reporting another month of record growth, in part because of larger cargo ships arriving in Savannah via the expanded Panama Canal.

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Griff Lynch, the authority's executive director, said Monday the Savannah and Brunswick seaports handled 2.94 million tons of cargo in February — up nearly 10 percent from the same month last year. It was also their second-highest monthly tonnage ever. That record was set in January.

The expanded Panama Canal opened this week, giving bigger ships a shortcut through the Americas, but the deepening of the Savannah Port is still ongoing and more federal dollars are needed to finish it.

The upgraded Panama Canal can now handle ships that carry nearly three times the cargo, but the bigger ships coming through the canal may actually slow traffic in Savannah.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal is calling a completed expansion of the Panama canal a "historic moment" for Georgia.

Georgia Ports Authority chairman Jimmy Allgood and other state officials attended Sunday's opening of the $5.25 billion expansion. Officials say the expansion will also allow larger ships to pass, increasing efficiency.

Deal says the Port of Savannah is a top East Coast trading partner with the Panama canal.