CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The ongoing study to deepen Charleston Harbor was boosted Wednesday with the news that the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers has set aside $2.5 million for the project.
Senator Lindsey Graham says the federal share will be matched by an equal contribution from the South Carolina State Ports Authority.
"This is the most significant federal contribution made thus far to the Charleston Harbor deepening effort," Graham said. "It is a significant victory given the fact President Obama's budget for Fiscal Year 2012 had nothing allocated for Charleston."
Graham says the funds are being awarded under a more merit-based system and added that harbor deepening is a worthwhile investment.
"As a result of language we were able to include in last year's spending bill, Charleston was eligible to receive funding to continue its deepening study," Graham said.
According to Graham, one out of every five jobs in SC is tied – directly and indirectly – to the operation of the Port.
"Deepening the port will allow us to keep these jobs in our state and also create more jobs in the future," he said.
Graham noted that Obama will release his Fiscal Year 2013 budget next week. He said he was hopeful funds to deepen Charleston Harbor will be included.
Graham also said he would continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers and the SC State Ports Authority to explore avenues to help expedite the harbor deepening project from its estimated 2024 completion date.
"Deepening Charleston Harbor is the number-one issue for South Carolina's economy," Graham said. "The Port of Charleston is our economic gateway to the world. We have to ensure the harbor deepening process moves forward in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This is good news we'll celebrate today, but we know the President's budget release early next week is yet another important step in the process."