Corps to give update on Charleston Harbor deepening
Itís been just over a year since the State Ports Authority and the Army Corps of Engineers agreed to study a plan to deepen the Charleston Harbor to accommodate larger container ships, and now the Corps is poised to give an update on where things stand.
For the SPA and other port interests, the big questions will be: How long will this project take?
The Corps had first estimated, last summer, that studying the feasibility and environmental impacts of deepening the shipping channel from the current 45 feet could take between five and eight years, with another six years needed to design and complete the deepening work.
The Corps then shortened that timeline, saying the study should take four years and the entire project should take a decade. Advocates of the deepening project say thatís far too long.
The Panama Canal is being widened and deepened, in a massive undertaking that could be finished in 2014, that will make it possible for huge container ships from Asia to reach the U.S. Southeast coast via the canal. Problem is, most Southeast ports arenít deep enough to handle the mega-ships at all times.
Charleston, like Savannah, Miami, Jacksonville and other ports, wants to go deeper, and fast.
The project is seen as an urgent one for the South Carolina economy, so much so that the General Assembly has set aside $300 million to pay for the work just in case federal funding isnít made available ó but studies and federal permission to dredge are still needed.
The latest report on the progress of the project and a look at the path ahead will be delivered by the Corps at a press briefing Wednesday at 11 a.m.
Read the latest developments in The Post and Courier and follow reporterDavid Sladeon Twitter @DSladeNews.