South Carolina expects no delay between study and harbor work
by Bruce Smith, Associated Press
March 07, 2014 01:00 PM | 627 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In this July 18, 2013 file photo, a container ship makes its way into the Port of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. A spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority said Friday, March 7, 2014, that the authority expects a seemless transition from studies of deepening the harbor shipping channel to dredging work on the $350 million project expected to begin late next year. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)
In this July 18, 2013 file photo, a container ship makes its way into the Port of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. A spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority said Friday, March 7, 2014, that the authority expects a seemless transition from studies of deepening the harbor shipping channel to dredging work on the $350 million project expected to begin late next year. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)
slideshow
In this Jan. 27, 2014 file photo, numerous cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal in Savannah, Ga. Close to getting underway after 15 years of government studies and delays, the deepening of Savannah's busy shipping channel has struck another political setback with the Obama administration saying it's not ready to seek construction funding for the $652 million project and won't let Georgia jumpstart things by using its own money. A day after blasting the White House, saying it broke a promise to Georgians, Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday, March 5, 2014 t
In this Jan. 27, 2014 file photo, numerous cranes work three vessels loading and unloading shipping containers at the Georgia Ports Authority Garden City terminal in Savannah, Ga. Close to getting underway after 15 years of government studies and delays, the deepening of Savannah's busy shipping channel has struck another political setback with the Obama administration saying it's not ready to seek construction funding for the $652 million project and won't let Georgia jumpstart things by using its own money. A day after blasting the White House, saying it broke a promise to Georgians, Gov. Nathan Deal said Wednesday, March 5, 2014 t
slideshow

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina ports officials expect a seamless transition from the federal studies of deepening the Charleston Harbor shipping channel to dredging work on the $300 million project, which could begin next year.

President Barack Obama's budget released this week includes almost $700,000 for the ongoing studies of the harbor deepening.

A final report is expected in September 2015 from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on how deep to dredge the channel. Maritime interests want it at least 50 feet to handle new generation of larger container ships.

"The administration has included funding for the SCPA's deepening project in its budget for three consecutive years," Bill Stern, the board chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority, said in a statement. "We're deeply appreciative that the administration recognizes our harbor deepening as a critical infrastructure project."

That's in stark contrast to the reaction in Georgia. No construction money was in the president's budget for a $650 million deepening of the Savannah River channel, a project that has already been approved by the Corps. The state's congressional delegation sent a letter to the president protesting the lack of funds, despite Obama and Vice President Joe Biden publicly supporting the project and promising money.

Georgia, a keen port competitor with South Carolina, has set aside $231 million for that state's share of the project. But the White House has said the deepening work can't begin until the House and Senate work out differences on a new $8.2 billion water resources bill.

That measure would, for the first time, allow ports to get work underway on deepening projects with their own money and then be reimbursed for part of the expense later from the federal government later. In the past, once there was a positive report from the Corps, the project still had to be authorized by Congress and money approved, causing delays between studies and construction.

The South Carolina General Assembly has already set aside $300 million which might be enough to pay the entire cost of the Charleston deepening.

Erin Pabst, a spokeswoman for the South Carolina Ports Authority, said Friday the agency is confident the water resources bill will be passed in plenty of time so that once the final studies on the project are done, the dredging work can begin late next year.

"We're trying to move forward seamlessly," she said. "We're pretty confident they will have a successful conference on the bill and that it will pass."

During a visit last September to Charleston, Biden said deepening the Charleston channel is important because the nation will fall behind other nations if it doesn't update its infrastructure.

"We'd better deepen it to 50 feet," he told a crowd on the Charleston waterfront. "Otherwise, guess what? We're going to be left behind, because other ports are going ahead and doing it."



Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Comments
(0)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, spam, and links to outside websites will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides