Army Corps puts $49 million toward Charleston Harbor deepening project

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Army Corps of Engineers has given $49 million to the Charleston Harbor deepening project in 2018, Gov. Henry McMaster said.

"This is the most dynamic port on the Atlantic coast," McMaster said at a Thursday evening news conference. "As the port has said many times, everybody in the state doesn't work for the port but the port works for everybody in the state. This is one of our greatest economic engines."

McMaster went on to credit South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and leadership of the South Carolina Ports Authority for the effort in a series of tweets. The $49 million is a little over half of what the state's congressional delegation asked for in a letter three months ago when $90 million was requested for 2018.

State Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said the funding will allow the fast-moving project to continue seamlessly.

"We started deepening in the entrance channel in April, but this is really the critical piece that links the entrance channel to the Wando terminal," Newsome said. "Making that linkage in time by the end of 2020 is critical for us. So having the funding in place means the Army Corps can let the next contract and that keeps us going, we don't have any delays. We don't have time to wait, that's been our message all along."

The state-funded $300 million of the project. The money awarded Thursday means the project is still $180 million short of the anticipated amount needed to fund the entire project.

The project itself kicked off back in March aboard the U.S.S. Yorktown. It will lower the more-than-20-mile long Charleston Harbor entrance channel from its current 45 feet to a newly-authorized depth of 52 feet, according to a release from the U.S. Army.

Construction could take between 40 and 76 months, or more than six years, to complete. The timetable will depend on several factors, including funding, weather and mechanical issues.

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