Charleston Harbor deepens, allows for larger ships

Source: Live 5
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 5:46 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 13, 2022 at 8:40 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - By the end of the year, the Charleston harbor will be the deepest harbor on the east coast.

When the Engineering Corps started deepening the harbor it was only 17 feet deep. Now, almost 140 years later, it is expected to be 52 feet deep.

The latest deepening project started in 2018. Five years of underwater construction work later, the project is expected to come to a close in the fall.

The newly 52 feet deep harbor will allow all container ships, no matter the size or weight, to pass through the harbor regardless of the tide.

Costing around $600 million dollars, the project was entirely funded through state and local dollars.

Jeff Livasy, the Chief of Civil Works at the Engineering Corps, said the ability to accommodate these large container ships in the Charleston Harbor will make transportation more efficient, lowering the cost of goods.

Livasy says over the years, container ships have grown in size so they are more efficient. Before the deepening project, the Charleston harbor could not accommodate all of them.

“I know we are in a time now of inflation and supply chain issues, but without those larger ships and those transportation efficiencies those costs would almost be that much greater, so it is helping to contribute bringing down the cost of goods,” Livasy said.

The Audubon Society, an environmental non-profit, used the extra sand from the underwater construction and dredging to recreate a 32-acre sea bird sanctuary in the harbor with the help of a number of biologists and non-profits.

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