Senator Graham makes case for harbor deepening

By Nicole Johnson  bio | email | Twitter

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - US Senator Lindsey Graham was in Charleston making the case to a top army of civil works official to get funding to deepen the harbor. He hosted the US Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy on a tour of the harbor and port.

"When it comes to exporting goods from America where new jobs will be created the best port on the east coast is to expand and deepen would be Charleston because were so close to south eastern manufacturing," Sen. Graham said.

Cargo ships like the post-pantamax are among the largest in the world and becoming more common. Sen. Graham says if Charleston wants to be competitive and easily ship or receive goods here, the 45 foot harbor must be at least 50 feet deep.

For 41 years whit smith has worked with the harbor pilots, a local group of ship pilots who boards cargo ships, and steers them into the port upon arrival to Charleston.

He says ships he noticed the much bigger ships about one and a half years ago, and they often have to wait on high tide to bring the ships in.

"Since the first of the year we've had 61 ships that were tide restricted and needed tide to get in and out of Charleston. That's money lost and time lost to a shipping line," Charleston Harbor Pilots President Whit Smith said.

Graham has proposed a ten year plan to get the harbor deepened, including study, design, and construction phases. He also wants to change the way the federal government allocates money to ports, by allowing the Army Corps of Engineers to decide which ports should get funding for port deepening.

The agency is currently waiting to see what funding they'll from Congress for 2011 projects.

"The Charleston Post 45 study is eligible to receive funds under a work plan so the Charleston District will nominate the Post 45 for inclusion," Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District Lt. Col Jason Kirk said.

The Army Corps has until March 18th for Congress to allocate funding because that is when the way funding operations are being handled right now will expire.

A large part of funding the study to deepen Charleston Harbor must be paid for by the federal government. The President's 2012 budget proposal does not include funding for the Port of Charleston study.

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