PortandTerminal.com, March 16, 2019
President Donald Trump included $138 million in his budget for the coming year to help deepen Charleston Harbor to 52 feet so it can handle heavier container ships.
The project, in the works since 2011, had never been included in a president’s budget until now. The U.S. Army Corps last year revised a formula that measures the project’s economic benefit, putting it above the threshold needed for consideration.
Dredging started a year ago and the State Ports Authority, which owns and operates the Port of Charleston, has said it hopes to finish by the time a new container terminal opens in North Charleston in late 2021.
Digging the harbor to a 52-foot depth is necessary, the authority says, to accommodate bigger, heavier ships carrying more cargo to and from the region.
In addition to dredging and a new terminal, the SPA is buying new cranes and refurbishing its busy Wando Welch Terminal.
“By 2021, the authority and the state will have invested more than $2 billion to support the booming growth of both population and manufacturing in the region,” said Jim Newsome, the authority’s president and CEO.
Newsome said a deeper harbor will let the port handle container ships carrying up to 18,000 20-foot cargo boxes without tidal restrictions.
Money allocated in the coming year will help pay for dredging the harbor’s inner channel to Wando Welch, where the turning basin will be widened to 1,650 feet. Contracts to dredge the harbor’s 20-mile-long entrance channel were awarded in 2017.
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