Yesterday was a good day for the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it has allocated $17.5 million for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project and named the project one of six "new starts" across the country.
According to the Fiscal Year 2017 Work Plan released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the funding will allow the deepening project to begin this fall.
“This is monumental news for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, and we are appreciative to the Trump Administration, Governor McMaster and the entire South Carolina congressional delegation for their efforts to ensure the project was included in the Corps Work Plan,” said Pamela Lackey, chair of the SCPA board. “Their unanimous support and tireless efforts continue to move our project forward without delay.”
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) joined Lackey in applauding the news.
"This is great news on both the spending and designation fronts," said Graham. "It allows construction to move full-speed ahead. I appreciate the work done by Director Mulvaney and the Army Corps in getting this right. It will pay dividends for Charleston, the state of South Carolina and nation in years to come.”
According to Graham, the Trump Administration's FY2018 "will reward projects like the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project – and the state of South Carolina -- for their willingness to forward-fund projects."
He gave the Trump Administration further credit, tweeting, "Great news for SC! Accelerated completion of Charleston Harbor Deepening Project on Track Under President Trump."
The project funding is expected to have a major impact on the South Carolina economy, as a 2015 study by the University of South Carolina's Darla Moore School of Business found that the ports authority has a $53 billion annual economic impact on the state. That study also found the port is responsible for 187,200 Palmetto State jobs.
South Carolina Senator Hugh Leatherman, who serves as the Senate's President Pro Tempore, also lauded the news.
“South Carolina, the Southeastern region and our nation will enjoy the positive impacts of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project for years to come," said Leatherman. "Today’s news is result of years of hard work and dedication to ensure SCPA will remain a competitive, growing port well into the future.
Jim Newsome, president and CEO of SCPA, said the funding will help the harbor reach the goal of becoming the deepest port on the East Coast.
"The significance of this funding for the timeline of our deepening project cannot be overstated – it is tremendous news for Charleston,” said Newsome. “By the end of the decade, we will achieve 52 feet of depth and be the deepest harbor on the East Coast, a depth advantage that will add significant capability in the Southeast, the fastest growing port region in the country. We are grateful for the leadership of our congressional and state delegations and look forward to a continued, productive partnership with the USACE as the project progresses.”