SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Gov. Nathan Deal says the federal government needs to "step up" and increase funding to deepen the busy shipping channel to the Port of Savannah.

Deal told 1,400 people attending a lunchtime speech by the Georgia Ports Authority's chief executive Thursday in Savannah that a greater influx of funding from Washington is needed to endure the $973 million project gets finished without delays.

The Army Corps of Engineers began dredging the Savannah River in 2015 by spending the $266 million share owed by Georgia taxpayers upfront. Federal dollars have proven tougher to get.

President Donald Trump requested $50 million for the Savannah harbor expansion in his latest budget proposal.

Georgia ports chief Griff Lynch says the project needs at least $100 million annually beginning in 2019 to stay on schedule.

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