Freight News, Sea

U.S. Senate WRDA Passage Moves Charleston Harbor Deepening Project Closer

[ September 20, 2016   //   ]

The U.S. Senate has passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2016, a significant milestone that moves the 52-foot Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to the U.S. House of Representatives for final authorization to begin construction.

“WRDA is critical legislation for port and port-related infrastructure modernization projects across the country, and we are grateful to Senators Graham and Scott for their unwavering support of its passage,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “We are extremely pleased that the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project will now move forward to the House for final authorization. Congressional approval will allow project construction to begin, ensuring the Port remains on track to deliver all of the capabilities needed of a modern harbor by the end of the decade.”

The Senate passed the bill 95-3 with nearly unanimous bipartisan support. From a national perspective, the legislation includes critical authorizations necessary for the U.S. to compete in the global marketplace as well as strengthens floodwater protections of coastal and inland communities.

“Our entire delegation recognizes the importance of this bill as the final hurdle for Charleston Harbor Deepening,” said SCPA Board Chairman Pat McKinney. “We applaud their continued dedication and focus on economic growth in South Carolina by helping our port system remain competitive.”

The House bill is expected to receive strong support from a South Carolina delegation united in their support of the project.

“We are encouraged by the Senate’s passage of the Water Resources Development Act of 2016, which includes authorization of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project to 52 feet.  The South Carolina Ports Authority’s ability to handle New Panamax vessels is critical to businesses large and small across our state and region and vital to the nation’s economy.  We look forward to working with House Leadership, Chairman Shuster, and Ranking Member DeFazio in order to optimize debate time on the floor and look forward to the passage of a WRDA bill this Congress,” said South Carolina Congressmen Mark Sanford (SC – 1), Joe Wilson (SC – 2), Jeff Duncan (SC – 3), Trey Gowdy (SC – 4), Mick Mulvaney (SC – 5), Jim Clyburn (SC – 6) and Tom Rice (SC – 7) in a joint statement.

Efforts to deepen the Charleston Harbor began in 2012, and the project progressed quickly as the first feasibility study completed entirely through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers SMART Planning process. The USACE’s original estimate of seven years and $20 million dollars for the study and associated environmental reviews and permits was nearly cut in half to four years and $11 million as a result of the new program, as well as collaboration with state and federal partner agencies. It received its Chief’s Report in just four years.