Georgia Department of Transport (Georgia DOT) has selected a contractor for the first part of a US$189 million project to lift a suspension bridge to accommodate larger container ships.

The agency has named Kiewit Infrastructure South Co for the raising of the bridge between Savannah, Georgia and Hutchinson Island. Georgia DOT has paid the company US$6.5 million for pre-construction services. The final total cost of the project will be announced once the design is complete.

The 1991 cable-stayed bridge crosses the Savannah River near the border between the states of Georgia and South Carolina. Cargo ships pass beneath it on their way to and from the Port of Savannah, one of the US’s busiest container ports.

The project will see the bridge’s cables shortened to raise the centre span by 6m from the present 57m.

But Georgia DOT is already looking to replace the bridge, either with a structure that has even more ship clearance, or with a tunnel.