CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Lt. Gen. Scott Spellmon, 55th chief of engineers and commanding general of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Jaime Pinkham, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, each made recent visits to Charleston to meet with the district team and to see firsthand how some of the district’s top projects contribute to local, state and federal economic development.
In addition to seeing various locations around the city, Spellmon and Pinkham both met with South Carolina Ports leaders Jim Newsome, president and chief executive officer, and Barbara Melvin, chief operating officer, to discuss progress on the Charleston Harbor Post 45 Deepening Project, one the district’s largest projects to-date.
Through complex dredging operations across nearly 50 miles, Post 45 takes Charleston Harbor depths from 45 to 52 feet and enables the world’s largest container vessels to enter fully loaded, at any tide. The project began as a feasibility study in 2011 and is scheduled to wrap up dredging operations later this year.
“We’re excited to see this project — the result of so many leaders and an excellent staff of engineers, project managers and experts — come together on time, and on budget,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Johannes, district commander. “Charleston District has maintained this harbor every year for more than 140 years. This is more than a project. It’s a legacy of leadership and innovation.”
As the district prepares a final report for the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Storm Risk Management Study, a federal feasibility study that investigates coastal storm surge risk reduction to support coastal resiliency, Spellmon and Pinkham visited several sites across the peninsula, including the Rosemont neighborhood, South Carolina Aquarium, Waterfront Park and High Battery.
Based on the current benefit-cost ratio estimate of 10.8, the study’s recommendations were ranked the top design and construction priorities in the southeast by the USACE-led South Atlantic Coastal Study, a similar feasibility study that identifies sustainable efforts to promote coastal resilience across 60,000 miles of coastline from North Carolina to Mississippi.
“In the Army Corps of Engineers, our vision is to engineer solutions for the nation’s toughest challenges,” Spellmon said of the study. “We are certainly doing that here.”
Mayor John Tecklenburg of the City of Charleston, the study’s non-federal sponsor, said the four-year study has emerged as a “true partnership” and that the collaboration is an extension of the district’s more than a century of service.
“Charleston District celebrated its 150th year here in Charleston, and that partnership throughout has been pretty remarkable,” Tecklenburg told Spellmon during a visit between the two at the High Battery.
To conclude their trips, both Spellmon and Pinkham traveled inland to see the Ridgeville Industrial Campus, a logistics hub that will also serve as a major Walmart distribution center.
Charleston District issued a permit as part of the project, but according to Lisa Metheney, the district’s head civilian, this was a great example of how district efforts and partnerships across multiple lines of effort fit together to produce major economic impacts for the state and nation.
“When people think of our deepening project at Charleston Harbor, or of our project, the Lake Marion Regional Water System, which expands access to potable water across rural areas of South Carolina, they may not immediately connect this to an economic investment several hundred miles away,” said Metheney. “It’s great leadership and success in these types of projects that inspire major development and eventually support economic prosperity.”
The Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works establishes policy direction and provides supervision of the Department of the Army functions relating to all aspects of the Civil Works program of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. For information can be found at https://www.army.mil/asacw.