By Moira KelleyJanuary 19, 2016
On January 12th, the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works submitted a report to Congress that recommends moving forward with deepening the Port of Charleston from 45 feet to 52 feet.
The project was one of the first seven that the Obama Administration expedited under its We Can't Wait initiative. It was also the first study to be completed by the Corps entirely under their new SMART Planning process, as part of the Corps' Planning Modernization effort. The original estimated duration and cost for the study and associated environmental reviews and permits was more than 7 years and $20 million dollars. The Corps' new planning paradigm and close collaboration with state and Federal partner agencies was able to cut that timeline and cost nearly in half, to 4 years and around $11 million.
The Port of Charleston is one of the nation's fastest-growing container ports; it is the 4th largest on the East Coast, handling about 1.5 million TEUs per year. It generates hundreds of thousands
of jobs in South Carolina and beyond. The $521 million project will create approximately 4,500 jobs in the State and 5,000 nationally during construction.
The project will provide approximately $109
million per year in economic benefits, returning $3.9 for every dollar invested.
The project will allow 12,000 TEU vessels drafting up to 50 feet to call at Charleston. Traffic from these large containership is expected to increase significantly once the Panama Canal expansion is completed in May 2016.
The project will also preserve 665 acres of wetlands, mitigating potential impacts to 324 acres of wetlands. It will also expand South Carolina's Artificial Reef Program by adding dredged rock material to the 25 acre Charleston Nearshore Reef site, which supports marine
fisheries resources for the area.