Federal officials are in downtown Charleston this morning to provide a status update on plans to deepen Charleston Harbor for larger cargo vessels.

The S.C. State Ports Authority wants to deepen Charleston Harbor to 50 feet from 45, a $300 million to $350 million project currently being researched by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps is planned to provide an update on the project at SPA’s headquarters on Concord Street in downtown Charleston this morning. Other officials planned to attend today’s meeting include Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

The House of Representatives and Senate recently passed their own versions of the Water Resources Development Act, a measure to help fund such harbor deepening projects.

Numerous ports along the East Coast and Gulf regions are jockeying for federal funds to deepen shipping channels to accommodate larger container vessels from an expanded Panama Canal.

Officials have warned that there are funding problems because of the removal of earmarks from federal spending.

In the case of deepening Charleston Harbor, the S.C. General Assembly has set aside $300 million for the project, just in case the U.S. government doesn’t contribute its share.

Charleston Harbor’s dredging is expected to be completed as early as 2019.

Earlier this year, Graham announced that he would seek to create a fund to dredge ports to 50 feet within five years.

The merit-based system for dredging ports on the East Coast would be based on certain criteria, such as economic impact and the population of the area served.