CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - President Donald Trump approved $138 million for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project as part of the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill in the 2020 Budget.
Both the Senate and the House voted to approve the appropriations bill this week as part of the fiscal year 2020 funding package, and Trump signed it into law Friday.
With this approval, the project is now fully funded to completion and on track to be completed by 2021, according to the South Carolina Ports Authority.
“This huge infusion of federal funding reflects the importance of ensuring South Carolina has a deep harbor capable of handling mega container ships,” S.C. Ports Authority Board Chairman Bill Stern said. “We are grateful to the Trump Administration for recognizing the value a 52-foot depth in Charleston Harbor brings to the Southeast. Thank you to our Congressional delegation, Governor McMaster, and the state and local leaders who have supported this critical project and worked tirelessly to complete it.”
Once finished, the Port of Charleston will be the deepest harbor on the East Coast at 52 feet.
S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO Jim Newsome said a 52-foot deep harbor will accommodate 19,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit vessels drafting 50 feet or more without navigation or tidal restrictions.
“A 52-foot deep harbor will ensure we remain competitive for decades to come as bigger ships bring more cargo to S.C. Ports," Newsome said. "A thriving port drives economic development and attracts business to the state, which ultimately creates high-paying jobs for South Carolinians. Port operations generate a $63.4 billion economic impact on the state each year and create 1 in 10 S.C. jobs.”
The next contract will achieve a 52-foot depth from Charleston Harbor up the Cooper River to the future Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston, set to open in 2021. The new Leatherman terminal will double port capacity at full build-out.