Trump OKs $138M for Charleston Harbor Deepening

The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project reached a very important milestone last week with President Donald Trump signing the FY2020 Energy and Water Appropriations bill into law, officially greenlighting $138 million for the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project .

President Trump included the $138 million in the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget earlier this year, making the project eligible for direct appropriations by Congress for the first time through the Energy and Water Appropriations bill.

Both the Senate and the House voted to approve the appropriations bill last week as part of the FY2020 funding package, and President Donald Trump signed it into law on December 20.

This enormous step forward means that the project is fully funded to completion and on track to achieve a 52-foot depth in 2021.

“This huge infusion of federal funding reflects the importance of ensuring South Carolina has a deep harbor capable of handling mega container ships,” S.C. Ports Authority Board Chairman, Bill Stern, said.

S.C. Ports Authority President and CEO, Jim Newsome, said that a 52-foot deep harbor will accommodate 19,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) vessels drafting 50 feet or more without navigation or tidal restrictions.

In 2012, the S.C. General Assembly set aside $300 million, the full estimated state share of the deepening construction costs.

The project also previously secured $108 million in federal appropriations from the Army Corps of Engineers’ work plans, as well as an additional $50 million loan from the state. Construction began in early 2018.

Work is ongoing to deepen the Entrance Channel to 54 feet; deepen a stretch from the Lower Harbor up to Wando Welch Terminal to 52 feet; and widen the turning basin of the Wando River from 1,400 feet to 1,650 feet.

The next contract will achieve a 52-foot depth from Charleston Harbor up the Cooper River to the future Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston, set to open in 2021. The new Leatherman terminal will double port capacity at full build-out.

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