By Matt Tomsic
Published Oct. 16, 2012
The bi-state project office for the Jasper Ocean Terminal approved a $1.2 million budget for fiscal year 2013 Monday and talked about the steps the office must take to study the capacity and navigability of the Savannah River.
The budget expects operating revenues of $1.4 million. Expenses will cover engineering services and studies for navigation and cargo capacity of the Savannah River and the proposed Jasper Ocean Terminal, a $5 billion port project on 1,500 acres of undeveloped land on the Savannah River.
The project office consists of members from Georgia and South Carolina; it approved the budget unanimously during its board meeting.
The board also received updates on the steps it needed to take to study the capacity and navigability of the Savannah River and the proposed Jasper port.
Doug Marchand, a board member from Georgia, said the Army Corps of Engineers has the green light for the capacity study and can fund its portion through the federal Planning Assistance to States Program, which allows the Army Corps to assist states with plans to develop, utilize or conserve waterways and coasts.
To begin the study, Georgia and South Carolina must send a letter requesting the Army Corps’ participation, draft a memorandum of understanding and pay its share of the study, which shouldn’t exceed $500,000 total, Marchand said.
Marchand also said the project office needs to agree on the study’s scope before it begins.
“No one wants a study that goes on forever,” he said. “We’re looking at a maximum of six months.”
Marchand also updated the board about the navigability study, saying that study must be appropriated by Congress for the Army Corps to begin. The project office could self-fund the study, but runs the risk that it would have to be redone by the Army Corps if it isn’t acceptable under federal laws that govern port developments.
“That could be wasted money,” Marchand said.
The capacity and navigability studies have been sticking points for the project office as South Carolina officials have said the studies need to be completed before the state spends more money on the Jasper project. In December, the S.C. State Ports Authority suspended funding for the Jasper development, saying the project office should study the river’s capacity and navigability before spending more money.