By Matt Tomsic
Published July 19, 2012
President Barack Obama has chosen the Charleston Harbor deepening project as one of seven priority infrastructure projects nationwide and committed to finishing federal reviews of the project by September 2015.
The announcement further speeds the timetable for the deepening project, which is in the study phase now. Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers Charleston District announced the study phase would be completed in 2016, shortening their estimated completion date by three years. The president’s announcement moves the completion date closer.
Army Corps officials had not received the announcement and weren’t available for comment.
“This announcement represents more good news for our deepening project and demonstrates that the highest levels of our government understand the critical need to advance this project,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the S.C. State Ports Authority, in a news release. “In just two years, we have gone from not being included in the president’s budget to now being a top priority. We are grateful for the administration's commitment.”
Gov. Nikki Haley said the announcement is a win for the state and the city of Charleston, and said she stressed the deepening project’s importance to Obama in February.
“I’m thrilled to see the administration has sped up our project,” Haley said in a statement. “Today is a huge, huge leap forward for our state.”
On July 11, the Army Corps of Engineers announced the deepening study was ahead of schedule and under budget.
The quickened pace means the harbor could be deepened by 2020 if it receives Congressional authorization and funding, among other caveats. Lt. Col. Ed Chamberlayne said Congress still must approve the project after the feasibility study despite the General Assembly setting aside the funds to cover the project’s entire cost, which is shared between the federal and state government.