Charleston, S.C. — The 52-foot Charleston Harbor Deepening Project announced receipt of its Chief’s Report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, their final substantive approval required for the project to progress through construction.
The report by Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to the Secretary of the Army outlines the recommendation of deepening the Charleston Harbor channel to 52 feet and entrance channel to 54 feet, as well as enlarging turning basins to accommodate for post-Panamax vessels calling South Carolina Port Authority’s (SCPA) container terminals. After review by the Secretary’s office, the report moves to the Office of Management and Budget for review and then to Congress for review and authorization, expected early next year.
“Receipt of the Chief’s Report is tremendous news for SCPA,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and Charleston will be the deepest harbor on the East Coast. This depth advantage will provide our customers with 24-hour access to deepwater, a requirement for significant long-term volume growth in today’s big-ship environment. We are grateful for the expertise and leadership of our partners, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who deliver today’s news just four years after we began the deepening process.”
The Preconstruction Engineering and Design (PED) phase of Charleston Harbor Deepening received federal funding in July and will begin in earnest with the signing of a Design Agreement between the Corps and SCPA. This federal investment will allow the Corps of Engineers to proceed with work in order to finalize the project design and produce construction contract documents. PED is the final major step in the technical work for deepening before dredging begins.
“South Carolina, the Southeastern region and our nation will enjoy the positive impacts of the Charleston Harbor Deepening for years to come,” said SCPA Board Chairman Bill Stern. “Today’s announcement reflects the dedication and united support of state and federal elected officials and the Obama Administration. This project ensures SCPA remains a competitive, growing port well into the future.”
Efforts to deepen the Charleston Harbor began in 2011 in order to provide the depth necessary to handle post-Panamax vessel calls without tidal restriction. In 2012, the SC General Assembly set aside the full estimated state share of the deepening construction costs, and the project was named was named one of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives.