ATLANTA -- Gov. Nathan Deal told business and civic leaders from Savannah Thursday that the Savannah port expansion is losing a key ally with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's resignation. "There's some things we want him to sign off on before he leaves because he's been so supportive," the governor said. LaHood, the only Republican in President Barack Obama's cabinet, became close friends with Deal when they both served in Congress together. LaHood visited Atlanta last week where he complemented the state's plan to deepen the shipping channel in the Savannah River to accommodate the larger freighters that will be able to transit the Panama Canal once a widening project there is completed. He announced his resignation the next day. Deal said LaHood would be around a few more weeks until his successor is in place. Georgia officials hope to soon get the federal share of the $630 million project included in the federal budget. They also want LaHood's support on the remaining administrative details before construction on the project can begin. "We're not going to make our deadline, but somewhat good news is the Panama Canal is not going to make theirs either," Deal said. Mayor Edna Jackson agreed that LaHood will be missed. "I, too, am concerned about LaHood leaving because we have been right up in his face," she said.
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