SC Port leaders trying to speed up deepening study

SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome
SCSPA President and CEO Jim Newsome

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Wilmington, Savannah, Jacksonville and Charleston all want the same thing. They all want to be the Southeast's main shipping port. On Tuesday, South Carolina State Ports Authority President Jim Newsome said he knows there's a lot of competition but the Port of Charleston is going to rise to the top.

"I see it as a competition," says Newsome, who along with six other community leaders spoke on behalf of supporting Charleston's bid for it's harbor to be deepened to 50 feet.
Currently, Charleston is six months into what could be at least an eight year study by the Corps of Engineers just to find out whether the port can be dredged to 50 feet.

"We need to build on work that has already occurred and move forward," said Grooms. "The Army Corps of Engineers needs to move as quickly as possible for the security in the economy of South Carolina and our neighboring states."

Newsome and SC State Senator Larry Grooms also brought up the port's deepening study that was completed in for Charleston's harbor in 2004 when the port was dredged to 45 feet.

With the report outlining the basic foundation for the deepening study that took place seven years ago, Port officials are suggesting the Army Corps of Engineers use the report to speed up the study this time around.

"We're trying to get to a next generation harbor not a last generation harbor," said Newsome.

The Ports Authority president says the keys to Charleston's success are getting into the Army Corps of Engineers work plan for 2012 and also into the President of the United States of America's budget in 2013.

The entire project is estimated to cost 300 million dollars of which 60% of the money will come from the state of South Carolina and the rest would be provided by the Federal Government. Of the $300 million, $20 million is the cost for the deepening study which the state and the Federal Government will split in half.

"The important marker is to get in the budget for 2013," says Newsome. "That's the milestone we're hoping to achieve."

The Port of Charleston is responsible for 11% of all jobs in South Carolina and port leaders say if the deepening becomes a reality that number will only increase.

Copyright WCSC 2011. All rights reserved.