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House sets aside US$180m for harbour deepening

House sets aside US$180m for harbour deepening

The fund will be used to cover the state’s share of construction costs following the completion of the project’s feasibility study. The total project cost is estimated at US$300m, 60% of which to be funded by the state.

Charleston’s deepening project has built considerable momentum recently, with US$3.5m for the feasibility study included in the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2013. That allocation, along with the funds already included in the Corps’ Work Plan, means that the federal share of the feasibility study is more than halfway funded.

Already the deepest harbour in the region, deepening Charleston would open the port to the biggest vessels 24-hours a day, under any tidal condition. In its reconnaissance study carried out in 2010, the US Corps stated that Charleston is likely to be “the cheapest South Atlantic harbour to deepen to 50 feet (15 metres)”.

“By including US$180m for construction at this time, South Carolina [State] shows that it stands firmly behind this project and is ready to usher it through to completion,” sid Bill Stern, chairman of the South Carolina Ports Authority.

“Each additional foot of depth offers tremendous opportunities for businesses – in South Carolina and throughout the region – to compete in a rapidly expanding global marketplace,” he continued, adding that the project offers the best value for a true post-Panamax harbour in the entire Southeast region.

The full House of Representatives will take up the budget in early March.