CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The White House announced on Wednesday that seven infrastructure projects, including the Port of Charleston, will be expedited to help modernize and expand major ports in the United States.
A press release states that the Administration has committed to completing all federal reviews for the Port of Charleston by September of 2015.
"This is very good news and a recognition the rest of the country now understands what we've known all along...Charleston Harbor deepening is a critical project for our state, region, and national economy," Sen. Lindsey Graham said. "It is a vital economic engine which must be deepened so it can handle 24/7 the new, larger post-Panamax ships coming online."
Governor Nikki Haley said this is a huge win for Charleston and for the entire state of South Carolina.
"Back in February, I stressed to the President how important deepening Charleston's Port was and how frustrating the Army Corps' timetable was, and I'm thrilled to see the Administration has sped up our project," Gov. Nikki Haley said.
"We've said all along that Charleston was the class of the ports on the east coast, that we weren't afraid of competition, and that at the end of the day we would have a 50 ft deepwater port that was envied around the world. Today is a huge, huge leap forward for our state."
Officials say the Charleston Harbor Feasibility Study, that will examine the benefits and costs of deepening for the harbor, is expected to be complete within three years.
"Essentially this can shave another year off the project timeline," said SC Ports Authority spokesperson Allison Skipper. "We're considered one of the highest priorities in the nation."
The ultimate goal is to deepen the harbor from 45 to 50 feet to allow larger ships to enter the harbor.
"Two years ago we were fighting hard for a $150,000 appropriation to keep the Charleston Port study alive and we were seemingly dead in the water," Graham said." Turning it around has truly been a South Carolina team effort."