The actual amount will be considerably higher. Only 63 of the association's 82 members responded to the query. And federal money for port-deepening projects - Savannah alone seeks more than $400m from Washington to carve another five feet from the Savannah River and harbor - wasn't included.
The huge public investments highlight the uncoordinated arms race between ports for maritime supremacy. Along the Southeast coast, for instance, Savannah and Brunswick compete with Norfolk, Charleston, Jacksonville and Miami for a finite amount of cargo.
Savannah and Charleston, for example, compete for the same ships and plan to spend almost $4bn upgrading harbors, docks and terminals. South Carolina politicians, who've plowed billions of dollars into the port of Charleston, vow to stop Savannah from deepening its river and harbor.
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