Charleston Harbor to be Deepened
Today the US Army Corps of Engineers released the Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Post-45 Harbor Deepening project, recommending that the Charleston Harbor be deepened to 52 feet.
"The Port of Charleston's ability to handle post-Panamax vessels 24 hours a day without tidal restriction is critical to the future competitiveness of our state port system," said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. "Completion of our harbor deepening project to 52 feet ensures that SCPA will continue to grow above the market average and remain a top ten port, facilitating trade and economic development for our entire state, region and nation. We would like to recognize the expertise and professionalism of the US Army Corps of Engineers as our partner on this project, and we look forward to working together through the completion of harbor deepening."
Launched in 2011, the federal deepening project will expand the Port of Charleston’s ability to handle the post-Panamax vessels dominating the ocean carrier industry. Following the opening of the Panama Canal expansion and raising of the Bayonne Bridge in New Jersey, post-Panamax vessels are expected to call the East Coast more frequently, requiring ports to invest in infrastructure and deepening projects to be competitive. Charleston currently receives seven post-Panamax vessel calls weekly and handles ships of this size with tidal restrictions.
Growth of commerce in the Southeast region also requires a deeper harbor. US container trade is expected to be export dominant by 2020, and export containers typically weigh three tons more than import boxes. The strong manufacturing presence in South Carolina and throughout the Southeast drives increased exports and the need for harbor depth to accommodate fully-loaded post-Panamax vessels.
“Deepening the Charleston Harbor is a project that has garnered united political support at all levels of government,” said Bill
Stern, SCPA Board Chairman. “We are fortunate for the leadership and vision of our General Assembly, who previously set aside the state share of construction costs. Our Congressional delegation members are among the strongest advocates for our project and the importance of our state’s port system.”
The SC General Assembly set aside the full estimated state share of the deepening construction costs in 2013, and the project was named was named one of President Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiatives. Construction will begin following the issuance of the Chief’s Report in September 2015 and the Preconstruction Engineering and Design Phase, during which additional cost saving opportunities on the project may be identified.
The report released today outlines the project’s significant benefits to the nation and illustrates that the project can easily be constructed in an environmentally-responsible manner.
For more information about harbor deepening, visit the port’s website at www.scspa.com.