WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said he was pleased the Senate had passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). The legislation is seen as critical to ensuring the harbor deepening project remains on track and Charleston Harbor is deepened to 52 feet.
“At the end of the day harbor deepening is really about jobs – today and in the future,” said Graham. “Goods and services made across South Carolina are sent to the Charleston Port and then make their way to every corner of the world. The Port is South Carolina’s most vital economic engine and why harbor deepening has been a top priority for me.”
Over 60 percent of the weekly vessel calls in Charleston are now the larger ‘post-Panamax’ ships. However these ships can only dock when the tides allow. Harbor deepening will provide the Port the ability to handle these ships 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Graham listed several reasons passage of the WRDA bill is important to Charleston Harbor deepening. They include:
• Gets Charleston one step closer to moving from the Pre-construction, design and engineering (PED) phase into the Construction phase.
• Allows the $300 million that the state of South Carolina has set aside to be spent on the local cost share that will be matched by an approximate $180 million investment by the federal government.
• Removes one of the largest legislative barriers to ensuring that Charleston Harbor is deepened. The project is scheduled for completion in 2020.
“Jobs, both today and in the future, are at stake with the harbor deepening project,” said Graham. “Our economic future, and the livelihood of thousands of people in the Palmetto State depend on getting this project done. When it comes to harbor deepening, failure is simply not an option.”
The vote in the Senate was 95-3. The Senate will now await action from the U.S. House of Representatives. Graham has said he will continue pushing for the legislation to be passed through Congress and signed into law by the end of the year.