An Army Corps of Engineers official said a critical study of the proposed deepening of Charleston Harbor remains on track but that it could be affected by federal budget cuts.

Lt. Col. Ed Chamberlayne told the State Ports Authority’s board of directors today that agency employees could see their work weeks cut to four days from five starting the week of April 22 under the so-called sequestration cutbacks.

The Army Corps’ feasibility report is one of the first steps in the lengthy process of dredging the local shipping channel to 50 feet from 45.

The draft of the report should be completed by the summer of 2014, and a final version is expected to be submitted to Congress in summer 2015.

Chamberlayne and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham were updating the SPA board today on the dredging project.

The deepening is scheduled to be completed by 2020 and cost an estimated $300 million, which will be shared by the state and federal governments.

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Several ports along the East and Gulf coasts are jockeying for federal dollars to deepen their shipping channels to accommodate larger ships once the Panama Canal is expanded in 2015.

The S.C. General Assembly already set aside $300 million for the project, in case the federal government doesn’t add its share.