Ports officials think the Charleston Harbor deepening project will be finished before the end of the decade. The harbor deepening and new Navy base terminal are the port’s two major projects to continue its growth and attract more cargo.
By Matt Tomsic
Published July 26, 2012
S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Jim Newsome expects the Charleston Harbor Post-45 Project to be completed well before the end of the decade, he said Wednesday during a Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce event.
During the chamber event, Newsome said the port hopes that timeline continues to shrink.
The harbor deepening and new Navy base terminal are the port’s two major projects to continue its growth and attract more cargo, he said.
“Cargo growth trumps all other things,” Newsome said.
The state’s allocation of the funding for harbor deepening is unprecedented in the U.S., Newsome said, and it sends a “huge message” to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The project will deepen the harbor beyond its current level of 45 feet. Now, the Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District is studying the environmental, economic and engineering impacts of deepening the harbor. At the end of the study, the Army Corps will present a recommended depth. Ports officials have said 50 feet is the depth needed to accept larger post-Panamax ships that will have better access to East Coast ports after the Panama Canal expansion is completed in 2015.
The project has received increased attention in July.
Two weeks ago, the Charleston District announced a shortened timetable for the project’s study phase. The Army Corps had said it could take five to eight years to complete, but a year into the project, the Army Corps announced it could finish in five years.
One week later, President Barack Obama chose the Charleston Harbor deepening project as one of seven priority infrastructure projects nationwide. Obama committed to completing federal reviews and permitting by September 2015, shortening the project’s study phase by roughly another nine months.