President’s Budget Allocates $138 Million For Charleston Harbor Deepening Project

The President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget includes $138 million for the 52-foot Charleston Harbor Deepening Project, a milestone that provides an opportunity for the project to receive Congressional funding for construction.

"We are grateful to the Trump Administration for recognizing the value of the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project with an outstanding allocation in this year’s budget,” said Bill Stern, SCPA Board Chair. “Federal funding at such a high level reflects the importance of our project to the nation and supports the continued progress of construction to 52 feet.”

Inclusion in the President’s Budget makes the Charleston Harbor Deepening Project eligible for direct appropriations by Congress through the Energy and Water Appropriations Bill this year.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ (USACE) recalculation of the benefit-to-cost ratio (BCR) to a new score of 6.4 last fall allowed the project to meet the threshold for consideration in the President’s Budget. The new BCR was driven primarily by SCPA’s container cargo volume growth, which significantly outpaced estimates used in the original 2012 study.

“The Charleston Harbor Deepening Project is a strategic priority for South Carolina, and it will be a driver of economic development across our state and region well into the future,” said Jim Newsome, SCPA president and CEO. “By 2021 SCPA and the state will have invested more than $2 billion in port infrastructure to support the booming growth of both population and manufacturing in the region. Our deepening project answers the need for a Southeastern port to handle 14,000 to 18,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit (TEU) vessels drafting 50 feet or more without significant depth and other navigation restrictions.”

Construction work began on the Charleston Harbor Entrance Channel in February 2018 following the awarding of the first two dredging contracts, totaling $260 million, by USACE. Deepening the harbor up to SCPA’s busiest container terminal, the Wando Welch, is expected by early 2021 in what will be a record construction period of only 40 months.

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