By Matt Tomsic
Published April 26, 2012
State senators passed a bond bill today to provide more funds for the Charleston Harbor deepening, said a spokeswoman for the S.C. State Ports Authority.
Spokeswoman Allison Skipper said the measure passed its third and final reading with a voice vote.
“We are incredibly grateful to the South Carolina Senate for making our state’s port system such a top priority,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina State Ports Authority, in a statement. “This bill allows our state to move forward with deepening Charleston Harbor if federal funds are not available for construction. This removes all uncertainty in completing this critical project, which will drive economic investment and jobs in our state for years to come.”
Skipper said the measure now goes to the S.C. House.
The bill, S. 1431, provides $120 million in bonds for Charleston Harbor and another $18.5 million for Georgetown, though the Georgetown funds can’t be used before the Port of Georgetown gets $15 million from a non-state source. The $120 million covers the federal government’s share of the deepening project and will be used if it’s needed.
Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, introduced the bill on April 11. The measure received praise from the S.C. State Ports Authority board during its April meeting.
The project is now in the study phase, which could take between five and eight years. The Army Corps of Engineers expects the deepening to be finished by 2024.
State lawmakers have already set aside $180 million to pay for the state’s share of the project.