Obama's 2015 budget earmarks money for ports

WASHINGTON (WCIV) --{}South Carolina Ports Authorityofficials say millions of dollars are on the way to the state's ports. The 2015federal budget includes money for several projects, including finishing thestudy of deepening Charleston's harbor.

"We're always happy tosee our name in the President's budget," said Jim Newsome, president andCEO of the South Carolina Ports Authority.{}

He believes money from next year's federal budget is crucialto completing the study on deepening Charleston Harbor.{}If that study isfinished by September 2015, ports officials and engineers can begin the nextphase.

"That's really what we're looking for is to moveswiftly into construction.{}We need to be authorized to do so.{}Andhopefully we get an appropriation eventually to pay for the federal share ofour deepening project," said Newsome.

More than $1.5 million is earmarkedfor Charleston Harbor construction, and $13.1 million will go to operations andmaintenance.{}Officials say this federal money, along with state funds,will prepare port facilities for the future.

"We're the only statethat can say that its deepening project has the entire cost set aside in a bankaccount, both the state and the federal share. That sent a very powerful messageto Washington also that we intend to realize this project," said Newsome.

Leaders with the U.S. ArmyCorps of Engineers are hopeful that if their studies are finished as planned bynext September, the harbor's design and engineering phase can start.

"We really sharpen ourpencils and get down to actually how to do it.{}So it's the drawings thatwe would hand to a third party contractor to go out there and do thedredging," said Brian Williams, project manager for the U.S. Army Corps ofEngineers.

It's a complicated and costlyinvestment in the local economy.

"This is all aboutteamwork.{}It's all about showing people that you work together, and thatthe state and the stakeholders believe in the project," said Newsome.

Ports officials say harborfunding recommendations need to be reviewed by Congress, but they're optimisticSouth Carolina's legislative delegation will help get it approved.

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