Published Sept. 23, 2013
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee unanimously approved a bill Thursday that provides another way to authorize harbor deepening projects nationwide besides inclusion in a water bill.
The U.S. Senate passed the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2013 in May. The bill authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to carry out its studies, construction and maintenance of the nation’s ports, waterways and infrastructure needs.
Historically, Congress has passed similar legislation every two years, but no such bill has been signed into law since 2007. WRRDA now goes to the full House for a vote.
“WRRDA will provide an expedited review process to keep projects like Charleston’s Post-45 Harbor Deepening from facing unnecessary delays as they move from study to construction, while also providing needed maintenance funding for emerging harbor projects like Georgetown,” S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said in a statement.
The Charleston Harbor Post-45 project, which would deepen the harbor beyond its current 45-foot depth, faces its next congressional authorization after September 2015, when the Army Corps of Engineers expects to provide a recommendation to Congress. The deeper waters are needed to allow the bigger, post-Panamax ships that are expected when the Panama Canal expansion is completed.
Newsome thanked committee Chairman Bill Shuster, ranking member Nick Rahall and Reps. Mark Sanford and Tom Rice for getting the bill through the committee. Shuster visited the Port of Charleston in early May.
“At its heart, WRRDA is about jobs and improving America’s competitiveness,” Shuster said in a statement. “A strong water transportation network is critical to keeping pace with other nations that are improving their own infrastructure networks and gaining ground in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.”