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American Shipper

Army Corps funds Charleston Harbor Study

Army Corps funds Charleston Harbor Study

   The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday released its work plan for the $5 billion Army Civil Works program through the end of fiscal year 2011.

   The plan includes $150,000 to begin a feasibility study for deepening Charleston Harbor beyond its current 45-foot depth. The South Carolina State Ports Authority will provide matching $150,000 funding.

   It follows months of effort by South Carolina politicians, including Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jim DeMint, to win support for funding the study in the current fiscal year.

   'With bigger ships and expanding exports, the United States needs a true 50-foot harbor in the Southeast,” said Bill Stern, chairman of the state port authority. “At a time of scarce resources, Charleston is the nation's best buy in harbor deepening.”

   Because of tides, some ships drawing as much as 48 feet call Charleston.

   “Our attention now turns to launching the study and securing funds in the fiscal year 2012 budget for the Corps to continue with their share of the work,' said Jim Newsome, the port authority's president and chief executive officer.

Newsome

   Glenn Jeffries, chief of corporate communications for the Corps of Engineers' Charleston office, said the funds would be used to gather information and set up public workshops.

   The Corps's study will determine the costs and benefit of deepening the harbor to various depths. The study is estimated to be a three- to five-year process totaling $12 million to $20 million and cost-shared 50-50 by the federal government and the local sponsor. The total project is estimated at $300 million.

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   The Corps of Engineers said funding is provided for other important navigation projects such as New York-New Jersey Harbor and Olmsted Locks and Dam, which is located on the Ohio River between Paducah, Ky., and Cairo, Ill.

   Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and Miami are all seeking to deepen their harbors.

   The work plan includes $1 million for the Miami Harbor Deepening investigation.

   Eric Olafson, manager, of intergovernmental affairs and cargo development at the Port of Miami, said the port will seek bids for its 50-foot deepening project next January, begin construction in the summer of 2012 and complete the $150 million project by 2014. Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked his state’s Department of Transportation to allocate $77 million to the Port of Miami to deepen the channel to 50 feet so larger ships can access the port, and the port will provide the other half of the funding for the project.

   The Port of Corpus Christi, said the Corps had included about $58.5 million in funding for the Port's La Quinta Channel extension project as part of its 2011 work plan for the Army Civil Works program.

   “This is an important achievement for the port. The extension of the La Quinta Channel is a major step forward towards the development of the La Quinta Trade Gateway multipurpose facility, one of the most important diversification projects of the port,' said Mike Carrell, port commission chairman.

   Further information on the Army Corps work plan can be found here. ' Chris Dupin

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