U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allocates $17.5 million, names Charleston Project a “new start”
The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project was named one of six “new starts” and received $17.5 million in construction funding in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Fiscal Year 17 Work Plan released Wednesday (May24), allowing construction on the project to begin this fall as scheduled.
Charleston also received $16.1 million in operations and maintenance dollars, which provide for the routine maintenance dredging of the harbor necessary for construction begin. Collectively the funds allocated in the Work Plan allow Charleston to continue moving forward and preparing for construction.
“This is monumental news for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, and we are appreciative to the Trump Administration, Governor McMaster and the entire South Carolina congressional delegation for their efforts to ensure the project was included in the Corps Work Plan,” said Pamela Lackey, SCPA Board Chair. “Their unanimous support and tireless efforts continue to move our project forward without delay.”
The largest contract for the project will be let this fall, utilizing federal dollars in combination with the $300 million in state funding already set aside for the project.
“The significance of this funding for the timeline of our deepening project cannot be overstated – it is tremendous news for Charleston,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and be the deepest harbor on the East Coast, a depth advantage that will add significant capability in the Southeast, the fastest growing port region in the country. We are grateful for the leadership of our congressional and state delegations and look forward to a continued, productive partnership with the USACE as the project progresses.”
The project has moved rapidly through the USACE SMART Planning process. Only six years ago, in May 2011, the project reached its first milestone with a $150,000 allocation in the USACE Work Plan to study the need and justification for the Charleston Harbor to be deepened beyond its current depth of -45 feet.
The Water Infrastructure Improvement for the Nation Act (WIIN), passed by Congress in December, authorized the Army Corps of Engineers Chief’s Report for the construction phase of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project. By achieving 52 feet of depth, SCPA will be able to accommodate fully-loaded new-Panamax container ships without tidal restriction.
The project has received strong support by all levels of government. In 2012 the S.C. General Assembly set aside $300 million for the project, and it was expedited by the previous Administration as a “We Can’t Wait” initiative.
Comments from Elected Officials and Business Leaders
“South Carolina, the Southeastern region and our nation will enjoy the positive impacts of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project for years to come. Today’s news is result of years of hard work and dedication to ensure SCPA will remain a competitive, growing port well into the future,” said Senator Hugh Leatherman, S.C. Senate President Pro Tempore.
“Our state has supported this project since day one because we see the value of a competitive port to our citizens and businesses. We celebrate this monumental news for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project and look forward to seeing the Port’s continued success,” said S.C. Speaker of the House Jay Lucas.
“This is a big deal! Today’s funding news is tremendous and reflects years of hard work. Congratulations to South Carolina’s delegation for their tireless efforts on behalf of the Port and the entire state. South Carolinians will see the positive impacts of our port project for decades to come,” said Senator Larry Grooms, Chairman of the S.C. Review and Oversight Commission on the SCPA.
“Today’s news furthers the efforts by our state to ensure the Charleston Harbor is deepened by 2020. The impacts of this competitive advantage for our Port will be felt across the state, particularly by many Upstate businesses that rely on our public port system,” said S.C. Ways and Means Chairman Brian White.
“The business community is incredibly grateful that our Congressional delegation has kept the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project on track. With one in eleven jobs tied to the Port’s $53 billion annual economic impact, today’s announcement is great news for our businesses and gives us another reason to celebrate,” said Ted Pitts, President and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.
“Our port system is critical to serving the international supply chain of our state’s growing manufacturing sector. Thank you to the entire delegation for working so hard to ensure this project is completed,” said Lewis Gossett, President and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance.