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American Shipper

Charleston harbor deepening officially enters pre-construction phase

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to conduct the design and engineering phase of the project, and the $1.1 trillion omnibus bill passed by Congress on Friday includes funding to dredge the harbor to 52 feet.

   Two developments last week moved the Port of Charleston harbor deepening project closer to fruition. 
   On Wednesday evening, South Carolina Ports Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed a design agreement, marking the official beginning of the project’s preconstruction and design phase. During this period, the agency and contractors conduct simulation studies, refine cost estimates, conduct coast monitoring and analyze beneficial uses of material that will be dredged from the ocean bottom to deepen the harbor.
   The Corps of Engineers in the fall finalized its recommendation to deepen the entrance channel to 54 feet, the main channel on the Wando River to 52 feet and the channel on the Cooper River to 48 feet from the current depth of 45 feet so the port can receive much larger container vessels without tidal restriction.
   The preconstruction phase technically began in July utilizing initial federal funding and is expected to be substantially completed by the end of 2016, according to the South Carolina Ports Authority.
   Meanwhile, the $1.1 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed by Congress on Friday includes funding for harbor dredging, as well as operations and maintenance dollars, that will allow the project to continue moving ahead without delay.

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