Charleston Harbor deepening project earns key federal funding

CHARLESTON, SC – Wednesday the SC Ports Authority announced $1.303 million in federal funding for the Post-45 Harbor Deepening project, allowing the Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) Phase of the 52-foot deepening effort to begin.

The announcement follows last week’s US Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Review Board (CWRB) approval to release the project’s Final Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for final review, another critical step of federal approval for the SC Port Authority to provide the deepest harbor on the East Coast. “The allocation of federal funding for the PED phase of our deepening project is tremendous,” said SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern. “We are grateful to the leadership of state and federal elected officials and the Obama Administration for their united support of Charleston’s harbor deepening. The merit of our project and the significant benefits it will deliver for our state and nation are signified by the efforts of elected officials on all levels to ensure it progresses without delay.”

Total PED costs for Charleston’s deepening project are estimated at $4.5 million, divided equally between federal and state government. With the full estimated state share of the design and construction costs set aside by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2012, the PED phase is 80 percent funded even before issuance of the project’s Chief’s Report.

The PED funding provides for the execution of a design agreement with the Corps of Engineers, allowing work to proceed in order to finalize the project design and produce contract documents. PED is the final major step in the deepening process before construction begins. Additional work completed during this phase includes ship simulation studies, refinement of cost estimates, coastal monitoring and analysis of beneficial use of dredged material.

Concurrent with preparations for the design agreement is a 30-day review period of the final report for state and resource agencies that begins July 10. The Chief’s Report, issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers, is expected to be finalized by September and transmitted to Congress for authorization later this year.   “The container shipping industry’s deployment of big ships is evident, and there is no question that the Southeast needs a harbor deeper than 50 feet to accommodate fully-loaded post-Panamax container ships,” said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. “SCPA will soon be able to handle these vessels without tidal restriction, ensuring we can support growing volume needs. The US Army Corps of Engineers’ timely response to this dominant industry need is admirable, and we look forward to the completion of PED followed by significant progress on construction by the end of the decade.”

The Post-45 Deepening Project began in 2011 and has moved expeditiously through the US Army Corps of Engineers’ accelerated planning process.

Upon completion of the 52 foot deepening, Charleston will offer the deepest harbor on the East Coast with unrestricted capability to handle post-Panamax vessel calls.

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