The Charleston Harbor deepening project received $2.5 million of federal funding today when the Army Corps of Engineers released its work plan for fiscal year 2012.
“This is wonderful news for the 260,000 South Carolinians whose jobs depend on the competitiveness of our port,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the S.C. State Ports Authority, in a statement. “The nation needs a true 50-foot harbor in the Southeast region to serve the growing needs of trade, including bigger ships and increased demand overseas for U.S. goods.”
The cash will be used to continue the feasibility study, which is expected to cost about $20 million, and wouldn’t have been available without a provision U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., included in an appropriations bill last December, said Graham spokesman Kevin Bishop.
The provision created a $461 million account the corps and ports can use to fund harbor projects if they are not included in President Barack Obama’s budget. The Charleston Harbor project was not included in the president’s fiscal year 2012 budget.
Graham praised the inclusion of funds for Charleston Harbor.
“This is the most significant federal contribution made thus far to the Charleston Harbor deepening effort,” Graham said. “Deepening Charleston Harbor is the number-one issue for South Carolina’s economy.”
In September, the S.C. State Ports Authority board agreed to accelerate its half of the harbor deepening and allocated $2 million for project in fiscal year 2012.
The feasibility study is expected to take between five and eight years, though the Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District is pushing more toward five years than eight.