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Stephen B. Morton, Associated Press
Ship to shore cranes load shipping containers onto jockey trucks from a cargo ship at the Port of Savannah on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014, in Savannah, Ga. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal signed an agreement today allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to begin the long-sought deepening of the Savannah harbor using $266 million in state money.

SAVANNAH, Ga. — East Coast states are shouldering more of the financial burden rather than wait for money from Washington as they race to deepen waterways that cargo ships travel to reach their seaports

Georgia this week agreed to let the Army Corps of Engineers begin deepening the shipping channel to the Port of Savannah using $266 million in state money. Washington should cover 60 percent of the $706 million cost, but there's no guarantee when that will happen.

In South Carolina, a new study shows the state would pay two-thirds of a $509 million dredging project for the Charleston port. The state would pay extra to dig deeper than the Army Corps recommends.

Larger ships are expected along the East Coast after the Panama Canal finishes a major expansion in 2016.