By Matt Tomsic
Published May 16, 2013
The U.S. Senate passed a water resources bill that provides an alternative mechanism for authorizing harbor deepening projects in order to keep those projects, like the deepening of Charleston Harbor and others, from facing delays.
The Water Resources Development Act of 2013, or WRDA, passed 83-14, and a related bill is working its way through the U.S. House.
“While it’s early in the process, we are grateful to the Senate and appreciative that our senators worked with their colleagues to ensure that Charleston’s deepening project has a path to move forward without delay in the absence of future WRDA bills,” said Jim Newsome, CEO of the S.C. State Ports Authority. “This is important because WRDA is scheduled for reauthorization every two years, but there have been two WRDA bills to pass since 2000 — one in 2000 and one in 2007. We look forward to working with our House delegation and (Rep. Bill Shuster) as they consider the bill.”
Shuster is the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and he visited the Port of Charleston in early May.
“I came down to South Carolina as I’ve been doing for the past couple months traveling around the country and looking at some of our most important assets around the country,” Shuster said at the time. “The Port of Charleston is certainly one of those.”
The bill provides another way to authorize harbor deepening projects across the country besides inclusion in a water bill. The Charleston Harbor Post-45 project faces its next congressional authorization after September 2015, when the Army Corps of Engineers expects to provide a recommendation to Congress about deepening the harbor beyond its current depth of 45 feet.