State allocates $300 million for harbor deepening project

Port of Charleston (File)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A committee comprised of leaders from both legislative houses in South Carolina announced Thursday a commitment of $300 million to help fund the deepening of Charleston Harbor.

Officials with the Port of Charleston say the investment would cover the entire estimates coast to deepen the harbor to 50 feet.

Previously, only $180 million had been approved for the project aimed at making Charleston's port accessible to the largest of cargo ships and a major port location in the Southeast.

"We are tremendously grateful for the forward-thinking leadership in our legislature for recognizing how vital this project is to the entire state," said Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA). "The Members of the House Ways & Means and Senate Finance Committees, joined by the Members of the Review and Oversight Commission on the South Carolina Ports Authority, have guided this appropriation across the finish line. This deep commitment is proof positive that South Carolina is serious about competing in a truly global business in order to boost jobs and opportunity for its citizens."

Charleston's Harbor Deepening Project has built considerable momentum since the project's feasibility study began last summer. Earlier this year, $3.5 million toward the project's feasibility study was included in the President's budget for fiscal year 2013. That allocation, along with the funds already included in the Corps' Work Plan, means that the federal share of the feasibility study is more than halfway funded.

Already the deepest harbor in the region, Charleston's deepening project would open the port to the biggest vessels 24 hours a day, under any tidal condition. The Corps stated in its Reconnaissance Study in 2010 that Charleston is likely "the cheapest South Atlantic harbor to deepen to 50 feet."