CHARLESTON, S.C. — The South Carolina Legislature has committed $300 million to fund construction of a post-45-foot harbor project for the Port of Charleston. This allocation would cover the entire estimated cost to deepen the harbor to 50 feet, once the project receives authorization from Congress.
A conference committee comprised of leaders from both legislative houses announced the amended state budget, which increased the cash contribution in the Harbor Deepening Reserve Fund to $300 million from $180 million previously approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate.
"We are tremendously grateful for the forward-thinking leadership in our legislature for recognizing how vital this project is to the entire state," said Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). "The Members of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees, joined by the Members of the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina Ports Authority, have guided this appropriation across the finish line. This deep commitment is proof positive that South Carolina is serious about competing in a truly global business in order to boost jobs and opportunity for its citizens."
Following completion of the Post 45 Project’s feasibility study and authorization by Congress, the Harbor Deepening Reserve Fund would be used to pay for the actual construction of the deepening project, which is estimated at $300 million.
The cost-sharing structure for a Post 45 depth is 60 percent funded by the state, or $180 million. The additional $120 million in the fund would cover the federal share of the project’s construction if federal funding is not available. The funds also could be used to keep the project moving forward, thereby losing no time due to funding constraints. Expenditures from the fund would require approval by the Joint Bond Review Committee comprised of both House and Senate Members.
Charleston’s Harbor Deepening Project has built considerable momentum since the project’s feasibility study began last summer. Earlier this year, $3.5 million toward the project’s feasibility study was included in the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2013. That allocation, along with the funds already included in the Corps’ Work Plan, means that the federal share of the feasibility study is more than halfway funded.
Already the deepest harbor in the region, Charleston’s deepening project would open the port to the biggest vessels 24 hours a day, under any tidal condition. The Corps stated in its Reconnaissance Study in 2010 that Charleston is likely "the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet."