May 17 2011
Meghan Hughes (202-224-5972) or Kevin Bishop (864-250-1417)
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) said the deepening of the Port of Charleston took a huge step forward today when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its Work Plan for the rest of Fiscal Year 2011 and included $150,000 to begin the Charleston Harbor deepening study.
Graham made the announcement in a conference call with Sixth District Congressman James E. Clyburn and First District Congressman Tim Scott.
“This is a very good day for the Port of Charleston,” said Graham. “Today’s announcement is an important first step in a long journey. I truly appreciate the help the Vice President has provided in this effort. I appreciate the work of the South Carolina delegation in making this happen. I also want to thank Senator Alexander, Senator Reid, Senator McConnell, Senator Feinstein, and their respective staffs for the assistance they provided in this effort. This has truly been a bipartisan effort in the Senate. Before today, we were literally out of the game and there was a real concern we would fall another year behind. Now, we’re back in the game.”
Graham noted the major impact of the announcement is that it allows the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) to enter into a legal partnership with the federal government (U.S. Army Corp of Engineers) to share the future costs of harbor deepening. The agreement between the SCPA and the Army Corp is expected to be signed in the coming days.
The next phase in harbor deepening is expected to take 3 to 5 years and involves a 50-50 cost-share between the Army Corp and SCPA. The total cost of the study is expected to be $12-20 million. The total cost of the entire harbor deepening project will exceed $300 million.
Graham noted that financially it is imperative that South Carolina continues to partner with the federal government when it comes to sharing cost.
“The Port of Charleston truly is one of South Carolina’s chief economic engines,” said Graham. “The Port is responsible for an estimated 268,000 jobs and $11.8 billion in wages. In fact, one out of every five jobs in South Carolina is tied, directly or indirectly, to operation of the Port.”
“Harbor deepening is absolutely critical to ensuring the Port of Charleston stays viable in the years ahead,” said Graham. “We’ve already begun working on funding for next year. I know it will be a challenge as it was not included in the President’s budget."
“We literally have tens of thousands of jobs across South Carolina and billions of dollars in business at stake with harbor deepening,” said Graham. “The importance of this issue to our state’s economy and future job creation efforts cannot be overstated.”