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May 23, 10:17 AM EDT

Georgia approves $7.5M for joint seaport with South Carolina

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia officials have approved $7.5 million to be spent over the next three years toward building a new port terminal on the Savannah River that the state would operate in partnership with South Carolina.

The Georgia Ports Authority approved the funding Monday as part of its fiscal 2017 budget. Curtis Foltz, the agency's executive director, called it a "huge step" for the proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal. Located on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River not far from downtown Savannah, the project is expected to cost $4.5 billion and would take more than a decade to build.

Both Georgia and South Carolina say the joint port terminal would give them needed room for expansion after the ports of Savannah and Charleston eventually run out of space.

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