President Donald Trump has signed the Fiscal Year 2020 Energy and Water Appropriations bill into law, officially giving the go-ahead for the US$138m for the Charleston Harbour Deepening Project.
Both the Senate and the House voted to approve the appropriations bill last week as part of the FY2020 funding package, and President Trump signed it into law.
The announcement means that the project is fully funded to completion and on track to achieve a 52 ft depth in 2021.
South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) board chairman Bill Stern stated: “This huge infusion of federal funding reflects the importance of ensuring South Carolina has a deep harbor capable of handling mega container ships.”
Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SCPA, said that a 52 ft deep harbor will accommodate 19,000 teu vessels draughting 50 ft or more without navigation or tidal restrictions.
He added: “A 52 ft deep harbor will ensure we remain competitive for decades to come as bigger ships bring more cargo to S.C. Ports.”
In 2012, the South Carolina General Assembly set aside US$300m, the full estimated state share of the deepening construction costs.
The project also previously secured US$108m in federal appropriations from the Army Corps of Engineers’ work plans, as well as an additional US$50m loan from the state. Construction began in early 2018.
Work is ongoing to deepen the entrance channel to 54 ft, deepen a stretch from the Lower Harbour up to Wando Welch Terminal to 52 ft; and widen the turning basin of the Wando River from 1,400 ft to 1,650 ft.
The next contract will achieve a 52 ft depth from Charleston Harbour up the Cooper River to the future Hugh K. Leatherman Sr. Terminal in North Charleston, set to open in 2021. The new Leatherman terminal will double port capacity at full build-out.