Corps: $15M harbor-deepening study to take 4 years or less

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC/AP) - The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers say the study into a proposed $300 million deepening of the Charleston Harbor shipping channel will not cost as much, or take as long, as originally expected.

Officials announced Wednesday the study to measure the environmental impact of dredging on the harbor was going to cost $15 million, as opposed to the original projection of $20 million.

Engineers also said the study would be completed in four years or less as opposed to eight years, meaning the actual deepening of the harbor could begin four years sooner than expected.

Once the study is completed, a recommendation must be made to Congress, who must approve and fund construction for the project to begin.

Maritime interests say the channel needs to be deepened below its current 45 feet to handle the larger ships that will routinely be calling when the Panama Canal deepening project is completed in 2014.

Copyright 2012 WCSC.  The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.